Australia - power workers told "Back to work or pay!" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Explanation of dispute in brief;

The dispute at Yallourn power station in the La Trobe Valley centres on the company wanting to change rosters and hire private contractors.

Talks between the company, which is controlled by British energy giant PowerGen, and six unions at the site, started last April.

Matters came to a head on January 11 when work bans by maintenance staff forced the closure of the plant, which supplies a fifth of Victoria's power.

The company argues it controls its business, not the unions, and has the right to introduce workplace changes.


Story Link

Back to work or pay: Bracks

THE Victorian Government today ordered workers at the Yallourn Energy plant to return to work by 6pm tonight, invoking the Electricity Industry Act at a Cabinet meeting this morning, following the breakdown of talks over the weekend.

Premier Steve Bracks said that Section 47c of the Act requires obliges employees to return to work and requires and obliges a resumption of the power supply at Yallourn Energy. "If it's not fines will be in place of up to $1 million for the company and up to $10,000 for any worker who defies those orders," Mr Bracks said.

"That order is now in place for four weeks, and what I anticipate and expect is that it will be complied with and we will have power generation up and running again, the start up of the plant today."

Mr Bracks said it would take between three and five days for the full 20 per cent of power produced by Yallourn Energy to be back in place.

State Cabinet met this morning after Yallourn Energy rejected the compromise offered by government-appointed mediator Neil Pope.

The dispute at Yallourn Energy worsened five weeks ago when workers went on strike, forcing the company's Latrobe Valley plant to close down.

Yallourn Energy normally supplies 20 per cent of Victoria's power.

Meanwhile, power restrictions to prevent the load shedding that occurred last Thursday, are still in force.

From 1pm to 7pm, the use of air conditioners, dishwashers, video recorders, computers and other home appliances is banned.

The bans also apply to business operations, with a range of restrictions in place.

The usage orders coincide with a predicted top temperature of 29 degrees, and daytime maximums are forecast to climb well into the 30s as the week continues.

Comment was being sought from Yallourn Energy and the unions.

There had been hopes that the dispute could be settled after unions had accepted the deal after all-night talks.

But Yallourn Energy chief executive Mike Johnston said the deal was unacceptable and the firm would seek renewed talks in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Mr Johnston said the firm would lift lockout notices at the Yallourn power station in the La Trobe Valley.

But Electrical Trades Union state secretary Dean Mighell said workers would not return to work and that Mr Johnston had "hand-grenaded" the compromise deal.

Mr Mighell said the unions would refuse to resume talks in the AIRC.

"The unions are terribly disappointed with the attitude of Yallourn Energy - their arrogance and their total refusal to accept the umpire's decision, a mediator they agreed to and the unions agreed to," he said this morning.

"Mike Johnston hasn't presented himself; he hasn't faced one moment of negotiations.

"I'm just on 23 hours being here, all the other unions have toughed it out, everyone else has, bar him. He came down to hand grenade the process to destroy the agreements reached with the mediator."

Neil Pope said after all-night talks he had told the firm it had until 7am today to agree to a compromise deal.

But at the deadline time, the firm handed Mr Pope a press release with a time of 6am, rejecting the offer.

"I'm extremely disappointed at the way that they conducted themselves at the finish by indeed giving me a press release dated 6am at 7am this morning," he told said.

"They'd already gone to the press but they hadn't given the decency to the mediator who'd been working for three days.

"I wouldn't be too happy as a Victorian at the moment about Yallourn Energy."

Mr Pope said he had briefed Premier Steve Bracks over the talks' failure.

Mr Pope said the tragedy of the failed talks was that Victoria would continue to suffer power disruptions during the current heatwave.

"It's an enormous opportunity lost, an opportunity lost, in having some meaningful industrial instrument for the company and its workforce for the future," he said.

Yallourn Energy, which produces 20 per cent of Victoria's electricity, has been shut down for the past five weeks due to industrial action.

The problem hit home last week when Victoria and Adelaide were hit with rolling blackouts.


The Federal, State and city/rural local politics blur for the ordinary bloke. Blegh!

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, February 06, 2000


Thanks Pieter. So this is the glabalism that is suppose to make us all rich then, huh? I still feel bad for those cows.

-- Hokie (, February 06, 2000.

Power systems in a truly free market would serve customers infinitely better than can ever be expected using union thugs and immoral guvmnt bureaucrats in the loop, by definition. Cavaet emptor!

-- Brad O'Mara (, February 06, 2000.

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