Australia - MELTDOWN : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Read between the lines with this story. A heavy handed approach by the Government is creating its own problems. This is tabled for general interest. STORY LINK


THOUSANDS of workers will be sent home without pay today as peace talks failed to save Victoria from at least 72 more hours of chaotic electricity cuts.

Businesses hit hard by power rationing are preparing to stand down employees as air-conditioning and other key office and home appliances are switched off for six hours from 1pm. Printing, manufacturing and technology-based workers are tipped to be among the first shed as the bill from the power shortage soars towards $100million.

The blow for workers comes as temperatures in Victoria are expected to top 29 today, a blistering 39 tomorrow and 35 on Wednesday.

The prospect of devastating stand-downs emerged as last night's talks to get power workers back on the job at Yallourn Energy dragged on.

Company and union negotiators were locked in marathon discussions with government-appointed mediator Neil Pope.

Mr Pope was drafting recommendations likely to demand major compromises from unions and Yallourn Energy.

"We will have a package of my recommendations, they either accept that recommendation as a package or we haven't got a resolution," he said.

In other major developments:

FAMILIES with newborn babies will be spared from the air-conditioning ban after health authorities added them to the list of exemptions already covering the ill and elderly.

VICTORIAN taxpayers and energy firms face being forced to pay out-of-pocket NSW power producers $17million to compensate them for losses resulting from the dispute.

A FORCE of 150 electricity inspectors  armed with the power to enter homes  will hit the road at 1pm to police restrictions. Domestic cheats face $10,000 fines and business cheats up to $1million.

EMPLOYERS are calling for a compensation fund to help the business community, which is losing $25million a day during the restrictions.

PREMIER Steve Bracks renewed his threat to invoke crisis laws to order a return to work by union members and Yallourn Energy.

"What I urge the workers to do is act in the interests of Victoria. What I am concerned about is getting power back," he said.

THE Premier said he believed if a return to work happened today enough power could be restored to avoid rationing beyond Wednesday.

ELECTRICAL Trades Union state secretary Dean Mighell called on Mr Bracks not to push ahead with the threats that could see workers fined $10,000 and unions $1million.

"We have got until midnight ... if it isn't all resolved then we would just say to the Premier, 'Don't shoot an innocent party'," he said.

"Give us the opportunity of listening to where we've come from as unions, and don't disadvan- tage us."

Yallourn Energy last night said it was still negotiating in good faith and was waiting to see Mr Pope's rulings on the dispute over the company's plans to switch to contractors and rostering changes.

Mr Bracks will hold a crisis meeting of Cabinet today to consider whether to order a return to work or appeal to the Federal Industrial Court to resolve the issue.

"Clearly it is more immediate to invoke the powers of the Electricity Industry Act. An application to the Industrial Relations Commission might take some days," Mr Bracks said.

"But both have significant powers on return to work."

The Premier said he remained hopeful a path through the protracted 10-month dispute could be found.

"I am very positive that there are constructive talks going on," he said.

But Mr Mighell hosed down the chances of a resolution by the midnight deadline.

"Every point of substance is still outstanding," he said.

Mr Mighell said the six unions would take Mr Pope's recommendations to La Trobe Valley members, who would vote on whether to accept his decisions.

"I don't imagine they will all be our way, so there is going to be some pain in that. We'll have to work out whether we accept them or we don't," Mr Mighell said.

"If the government is going to start throwing all sorts of orders around and invoke legislation that's got implications ... obviously we will find that out and go to the members and tell them when they're due to go to jail."

Opposition Leader Denis Napthine accused the government of going soft on unions and failing to invoke emergency powers soon enough.

"In a little over 100 days Victoria has gone from being on the move to a state gripped by industrial chaos," he said.

"We have gone to a state that is stalled with industrial chaos and this will drive jobs and investment out."



Please remember there are many issues to be considered. Only some are covered here, but if trouble strikes electrical power in America you'll need to be aware of them all. Here meltdown includes dislocation of the people...

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (, February 06, 2000


Pieter...I just don't understand what is going on. What is the basic problem that started all of this? I think if this were to happen in the US it would be over in a matter of a few hours. The President would order them back to work and that would be it. If it were wide spread and they industry didn't go back to work, the industry would be inviting Nationalization and the public would be screaming for it.

I have spent some time in Australia and things happen there much more slowly with a lot more BS and superfluous talk going on. We Americans are more inclinded to "cut to the quick" and get it fixed. I hope for everyone's sake it ends soon. But do wish that you would give a brief explanation of the basic problem. Thanks


-- Taz (, February 06, 2000.


Cutting out the hyperbole, the issues are;
- Victorian power utilities sold to British big boys.
- Big boys say new enterprise bargaining rules! OK!
- Employees say erosion of workplace agreements not on.
- British say we want individual employee daily contracts.
- Workers say they have union to negotiate.
- Employer says Level Playing Field new paradigm requires making everything competitive or go down gurgler in quick time. wants to turn employee against employee.
- Maintenance workers say we strike. Bugger'em.
- Employer says strike and we lock out...Bugger youse too...
- Government bunch of new boys on block without punch.
- Plenty of generator trouble too at same time. Y2K?
- Lovely heatwave. Things stress. Generation failures in peak time causing outage.
- South Australian Torrens Island fails. Unbelievable timing. Right during middle of heatwave. Victorian juice doesn't flow. New South Wales tell South Australia to bugger off. National grid rationing enforced.
- New Victorian Government invokes laws. Compliance officers to spy on people using electricity.
- People reckon Government bunch of bovver boys in shades.
- Union says they want to work, but.....
- Power Utility says they want to generate power but will lockout everybody and take shareholders funds off-shore.
- Taz - I am confused, you are confused, Brack is confused, shareholders are confused and rural Australia reckons the whole place is fraying around the edge. Sheesh! Getting used to the new Federal Government workplace agreement rules is hard going when we're in servitude to multi-nationals. Economic Rationalism isn't rational when you sit in a village where the people are leaving for good. Globalism hurts...

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 06, 2000.

Sorry Taz, I'm at my cynical worst.

The ex deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fisher, said a couple of weeks ago on his retirement that multi- national coorporations should also involve themselves on a local community level. He called on their social responsibility. This went down well in the bush where social dislocation and changes are an everyday thing. I could go on at length with facts, but sign off by pointing out that this power industry unrest reveals social upheavels in Australia. Sooner or later it was going to happen. A heatwave showed it up.

You may think Americans would solve this issue pronto pronto. Unfortunately the issue is much different than it seems at first sight. It's about Australians being unmade and remoulded by external forces.


-- Pieter (, February 06, 2000.

Are the people sticking together with the strikers Pietr? Is there a plan, a set of goals to achieve....or is this something with a life of its own?


-- N H (, February 06, 2000.

Bad news, Piet!

Few in the US realize that Secretary of Energy Richardson has warned us publically that we may experience electric energy shortages this summer. His complain is about the way the grid has been redesigned, and he claims it will not handle what lies ahead.

Cascading problems can happen, and in where we lilly white, filthy rich, stock market slob, high on the hog, "it can't happen here" folks live.

-- paul leblanc (, February 06, 2000.

Pieter, I see you are posting a lot. Thanks, I appreciate it. Hope you keep it up. Kyle

I wish we had posters from Japan, South American countries, etc. who would do what Pieter is doing.

-- Kyle (, February 06, 2000.


I see no reason why this couldn't happen in the US. Nationalize the power industyr? Hell no! If fed workers were sent in, like the air traffic controllers strike, then it would be short term until the dispute was settled or more employees were hired. Americans abhore nationalization, and would fight it tooth and nail. If it were to happen before Nov then it would cost the democrats the whiteHouse and numerous congressional seats.

-- Hokie (, February 06, 2000.

Pieter, thanks for the explanation. Hokie...our grid has been deregualated so you know what that means. AT&T all over again as in destroying the baby bells. But don't forget that there is a reg on the books for nationalization of the grid. I just saw the thing before roll over. Will have to pop over to Rick Cowles forum and see if they are discussing the Aussie issue. I know they are discussing deregualtion. You will soon have to "choose" your electric company like you now do your phone company. Keep the news coming Pieter. We all appreciate it and yes, I agree. I sure wish that we had someone in Central America and South America that would give us all the news like Pieter does. Panama would be very interesting. Taz

-- Taz (, February 06, 2000.

A couple of notes -- it is SUMMER there. 29 and 39 degrees is centigrade, not fahrenheit.

Looks like TPTB (the Brits) have still not given up working for world domination again, and trying to turn Australia into another third world nation.

Australia was once a very prosperous nation due to encouragement of home grown industry. This resulted in some problems, like the Holden automobile, and high tariffs on Mercedes, but all-in-all they had an enviable lifestyle. Now as part of the NWO (economic, politicial [gun laws..]) looks like they're going down the tubes.

-- A (, February 07, 2000.

This isn't Kansas anymore Toto.

-- Dee (, February 07, 2000.

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