WORKERS at two power stations, near Singleton, are considering strike action that could put the state’s electricity supply at risk.
About 600 Macquarie Generation employees at Bayswater and Liddell power stations and the organisation’s Lambton head office will vote next week on action linked to a pay rise.
Macquarie Generation media spokesman Rob Cooper said: “Liddell and Bayswater produce up to 40 per cent of New South Wales’ electricity and industrial action could put this supply at risk.”
“We are working hard to reach a new enterprise agreement with our employees and are hopeful this can be done without the need for industrial action.”
It is understood that Macquarie Generation workers are concerned that Delta Electricity employees, doing the same work as them, recently received a 4.2 per cent pay rise and then the state government put a 2.5 per cent cap on increases.
The strike possibility has been looming for months and this week the Federal Industrial Relations Commission ruled that seven trade unions covering Macquarie Generation workers had to give seven days notice before action such as overtime bans, higher grade work bans and strikes up to 48 hours.
A spokesman for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Allen Drew, said a secret ballot would be held next week on whether or not members of his union plus engineers, scientists, managers and tradesmen would take action.
“The feeling I get from the workers is that industrial action is intended if Macquarie Generation doesn’t agree to a percentage above 2.5 per cent,” Mr Drew said.
“Whether electricity supplies are put at risk depends on what action is taken and what time it happens.
“It’s atrocious that the state government can step in and allow one section of the industry to be paid more than another.”
Mr Drew said the pay rise cap was linked to state government plans to sell the power industry.
“If Macquarie Generation is paying lower wages they can get a better sale price for it,” he said.
“And if they can take back some of the work conditions we’ve had for years that will also make it more rosy to sell.
“The pay rise cap will be challenged in court.”