SA Power Networks could be hit by industrial action after workers were warned they could lose out under rules designed for construction sites
THE state’s fragile electricity sector could be hit by industrial action unless SA Power Networks is exempted from rules introduced to prevent union thuggery in the building sector.
Unions are demanding that the power distributor receive a blanket exemption from a federal building code of conduct which could require some staff entitlements and protections to be stripped out of pay deals.
SA Senator Nick Xenophon said he intended to raise the issue with the Government because a crackdown on building site lawlessness was never intended to impact on the electricity industry.
SA Power Networks has advised staff that it could be banned from tendering for federally-funded work unless it complies with a construction industry code of conduct.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union warned that this could force its members at the company to take industrial action for the first time in 12 years.
“We’re going to end up in disputation,’’ union secretary John Adley said.
The union claims the code would strip away worker protections such as standard hours guarantees and fair rates of pay for sub-contractors.
SA Power Networks said it hoped to be granted an exemption from the rules by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
Senator Xenophon said there should be no need for electricity and other essential services to be covered by laws designed for the construction industry.
“When the ABCC Bill was negotiated I don’t remember power networks once being mentioned,’’ he said.