||Issue No. 193||29 August 2003|
Smells Like Community Spirit
Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
Tomís History Of The World
Tony Is A Tool
Power Blackouts Expose Jobs Shortage
ETU state secretary Bernie Riordan says a union analysis of the power industry since the break-up of Pacific Power in 1996 had found:
- a 40 per cent cut to field staff at Energy Australia and Integral Energy - responsible for maintaining and repairing lines
- outsourcing of tree clearing around power lines, leading to greater chances that high winds will bring down lines
- insufficient training of apprentices creating a long-term skills shortage in the industry
- and demands from the NSW Government for higher dividends creating a drain on resources within the power entities.
Riordan says all these factors had contributed to the high number of blackouts over the past week.
"A well-resourced power sector won't stop storms like last weekend's occurring, but it will ensure that the impact on the public is minimised," he says.
"In NSW we have an industry that is constantly under pressure to cut costs and deliver a greater dividend to government.
"In the long run it is the public that suffers through reduced services, with the impact felt at times when it matters most - like last weekend."
British Collapse Questions National Grid
The warning came as the electricity grid in Britain collapsed - in what the ETU has described as a timely reminder of how important the continuity of electricity supply is to the proper functioning of any society.
"Today's problems in Britain follow similar serious incidents recently in eastern parts of the United States and Canada," ETU national secretary Peter Tighe says.
"Unless major changes to investment and maintenance workforce levels are introduced in the Australian industry it is only a matter of time before Australian households and businesses suffer similar serious disruptions. We need to reverse the expenditure-reduction madness in this industry before it is too late.
Tighe says the introduction of a national industry regulator - currently under consideration by COAG - along the market-driven lines proposed, will only lead to further dangerous cuts in investment and labour force levels across Australia's electricity generation, transmission and distribution industry.
The power companies themselves have admitted last week, through the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESSA), that the industry needs as much as $30 billion in investment in the next few years just to keep up with demand.
That includes $15 to $18 billion on new distribution facilities, $5 billion on power generation, $3 billion on transmission facilities and $3 billion on renewable energy generation.
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