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Ergon workers 'risk their jobs' to meet Labor leader

Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted: Early start in Townsville this morning meeting local energy workers worried about their jobs.
Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted: Early start in Townsville this morning meeting local energy workers worried about their jobs.

OPPOSITION Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk flew from Brisbane to Townsville to meet about 20 disgruntled Ergon Energy workers concerned over the LNP's plan to privatise electricity networks.

She arrived in Townsville on Wednesday night, stayed the night then went to the meeting at about 6.30 the following morning. The visit lasted less than half an hour before she took off to call in for radio interviews and then fly to Gladstone.

But to the Ergon Energy workers, her visit was not a waste. They risked their jobs to meet the Opposition Leader.

Electrical Trades Union North Queensland organiser Wal Gioreani said Ergon bosses had told workers that if they attended any political gathering wearing Ergon uniforms and made statements they would face disciplinary action.

But they were willing to show their faces to the media because the issue of privatisation was important.

"They are risking jobs … to be here today to meet Annastacia," Mr Gioreani said. "This is how seriously they take this issue of the privatisation of the network.

"There is a real feeling amongst the depot and amongst the region that their job security is gone under the LNP Government."

He said workers had been trying to renegotiate their enterprise bargaining agreements. Workers were keen to keep it the same, with no pay increase, but the company rejected it, Mr Gioreani said.

He said the conditions Ergon wanted to change included allowing forced redundancies and relocation.

Since the LNP became the government, 1950 Ergon workers in Queensland had lost their jobs Mr Gioreani said.

An Ergon Energy worker who has remained anonymous to protect his identity said they worked on the network every day and knew what privatisation meant: higher prices for people and a decrease in service levels with more prolonged outages.

"We've seen what privatisation has done, we've seen what it's done in Victoria and we've seen what it's done in South Australia," he said.

"Our jobs are on the line. If the LNP get in again we'll probably be made redundant."

- APN NEWSDESK

Topics:  Annastacia Palaszczuk asset sale ergon labor queensland election 2015


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