The union representing the majority of workers at the Kogan Creek power station will apply to the Fair Work Commission to take protected industrial action after negotiations dragged on with CS Energy yesterday with no direction from the State Government on the impact of the Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter on enterprise bargaining under the future energy plan.
The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) which represents operators, fitters, electricians, and power workers at the highly efficient ‘supercritical’ power station, one of the newest, and biggest on the national grid, says members have been left with little choice.
Industrial action will compound the current critical shortage of energy security due to shutdown work at several of the units at Callide Power station and at other plants.
This may lead to widespread power disruptions in Queensland, as the Kogan power station near Chinchilla supplies 10% of Queensland’s power and much of northern NSW.
At issue is CS Energy’s inability to abide by the freshly inked Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter* which ensures workers at coal fired power stations are provided job security, career development to new technologies, and pay and conditions guarantees as the energy market goes through a transition to renewable energy.
There are over 120 workers at Kogan Creek power station and another 80 at the Kogan mine which supplies coal to the facility, not to mention the local community support workers. These jobs are essential to nearby Chinchilla and other local communities.
MEU members at Kogan want guarantees they won’t be replaced by contractors and a fair distribution of attraction and retention provisions in the EA so the Plant can continue to operate safely and efficiently.
MEU Queensland District Vice-President Shane Brunker says the situation has the capacity to escalate quickly and affect power generation across Queensland.
“The Queensland Government need to get around a table with the Unions and CS Energy, which it owns, and resolve how the Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter will provide security and a future for the Kogan workers,” says Mr Brunker.
“CS Energy need direction from Government at the negotiating table to finish these negotiations otherwise there will be dire consequences for energy security running into the peak period of summer power generation in this state.
“This round of EA negotiations are critical to the largest Union membership in Queensland generation given the challenges ahead with the transformation of our industry and we have to get it right today.
“We start negotiations with CS Energy for the Callide replacement EA in September and Tarong in January 2024, so our membership across the State are aware this EA and future agreements are the precedent for the industry and the future for their industry and communities.
“The MEU will not stand by and let the state-owned assets become another victim of precarious employment and contracted out work which is to the detriment of young Queenslanders and regional communities’ future.
“Either the Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter means something, or it doesn’t and if it’s not worth the paper it’s written on then at least tell us so we can take appropriate industrial action.
“The Charter was signed off in late 2022 with the guidelines for bargaining yet after 6 months of negotiations the Parties have failed to negotiate a suitable package to satisfy our members’ concerns of having job security, liveable communities and fairness in the workplace, our members have had it and are ready to take action.
Contact: Shane Brunker 0419 472 325
*Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter is attached.