Staff fight outsource

MOVES by SP AusNet to outsource its Eastern Region primary maintenance services have left up to 18 full-time employees at the Hazelwood Terminal Station in limbo.

Employees feared losing key entitlements, despite assurances by the company they would all be offered employment with the new contractor, local company BMC.

Some of the SP AusNet employees have acured 40 years of service.

Electrical Trades Union branch organiser Gippsland Peter Mooney said the union had informed SP AusNet it was in dispute over the company’s announcement, made on Monday, that it would commence a transition period to outsource services to BMC.

Issues being disputed include the loss of entitlements related to years of service by current SP AusNet employees, which will not be “rolled over”, classifications “still up in the air” and “no guarantees” of a permanent, secure position with BMC, which workers have enjoyed until now, according to Mr Mooney.

“This is not a transfer of business; these guys will lose the entitlements they had,” he said.

The matter will be heard before Fair Work Australia next Wednesday and Mr Mooney said “we don’t believe, under the current agreement, (SP AusNet) have the ability to do this”.

“At this stage the union and members are opposing this change; the workers want to stay with SP AusNet, they don’t want to be BMC employees and that’s not saying anything against BMC but they have security of employment where they are,” Mr Mooney said.

Once the SP AusNet workers are employed by BMC they will have to “restart the clock” in terms of accruing long-service leave and, in the event of redundancy, “this affects the years of service they have under their belt…they become new starters,” he said.

“Once they are with a contractor there is no guarantee they will be needed by the following week.”

Workers have been advised the change will take place within six weeks.

It is believed many of the employees are aged 50 years and over and were nearing retirement.

An inside source also said many of the workers had only had the one job, starting with the State Electricity Commission Victoria and, post-privatisation, continuing with SP AusNet.

An SP AusNet spokesperson said BMC had been awarded a contract for the next four years and all work would “remain in the Valley”. The decision formed part of the company’s efforts to “more efficiently deliver services and align resources to meet customer demand”.

“SP AusNet has made it a priority to actively work with BMC to secure employment for the impacted employees,” the spokesperson said, adding “the outcome ensures all jobs stay in the Latrobe Valley”.