Staff from Hydro Tasmania’s consulting division “Entura” are planning industrial action after overwhelmingly rejecting a recent offer for a new Enterprise agreement, 111 to 15 (88%). Staff rejected the offer primarily because it failed to ensure local jobs would be protected in the event of a sale of the consulting arm to Hydro China and its subsidiaries.
A recent presentation by the Hydro CEO Stephen Davy to staff has further fuelled staff concern for local jobs. During this presentation it was stated that in any organisation which is majority owned by Hydro China is likely to see existing Entura staff acting more in a sales role.
Currently Entura staff are primarily technically focussed, with a minority of staff working in sales. Moving to a sales role could mean considerable redundancies for existing staff who possess extensive technical knowledge in the renewables sector.
Professionals Australia also understand that Hydro has stated Entura would not be guaranteed to continue receiving its existing work maintaining the state’s electricity assets if the business was sold. Professionals Australia understand this is due to the fact that the joint venture partners could not guarantee the work would be performed by existing local staff. If true, this raises significant concerns that under a joint venture technical work will be performed by engineers and technical staff based in China.
Professionals Australia and the AMWU have requested urgent clarification from Hydro on the above two points, but are yet to receive a response.
Staff have now voted overwhelmingly to access 23 different forms of industrial action to encourage Hydro Tasmania to protect local jobs and expertise at least for the life of the next Enterprise Agreement. Both Hydro and the potential majority owners of the new business have stated the reason for the Joint Venture /sale is the growth of the business, but Hydro is still rejecting staff calls for genuine job protection for the next few years.
Staff were also deeply upset at the recent revelation that senior executives at Hydro had awarded themselves increases of up to 13% to their salary packages over the past year. These increases occurred at the same time staff at Hydro’s Entura were being offered a zero percent increase.
Staff are also still deeply upset at the deceptive language being use to describe the sale of Hydro consulting arm. “The fact is, Hydro is not investigating a genuine Joint Venture, it is investigating a sale of Entura. A joint venture is two business parties contributing assets for a finite timeframe and project, not a handover of control and ownership of the entire Entura division to Power China,” said Luke Crowley, Director of Professionals Australia, Tasmanian Division.
Entura is currently engaged to maintain and build renewable electricity assets around Australia; it is a key body in the maintenance of the Tasmanian electricity and water infrastructure networks. This would mean that a huge proportion of Hydro Tasmania’s current skill set in Environmental science, Engineering, Project management and other renewable professions and trades would be moved out of Hydro’s hands and into an enterprise majorly owned and controlled by Power China, and the Chinese Government.
Mr Crowley has said “Hydro and the State Government have repeatedly stated that Entura is not being ‘sold’ but we have had to wade through wave after wave of weasel words and deceptive language around this issue. It is irrelevant to Tasmania if the transaction is technically a “sale’, a “trade” or simply a gift of a profitable organisation to a third party. If this goes ahead, Tasmania would ultimately lose control of these world class renewable energy experts.”
Despite ongoing calls from PA and the AMWU, the state government and Hydro have consistently refused to provide any guarantees for the security of employment and work locations for Entura staff.
“If this a genuine opportunity for growth and there is no intention to lay off or relocating roles out of Tasmania, then offering some security of employee would be a zero cost exercise” said John Short, State Secretary of the AMWU. “Hydro and the state government is apparently seeking to dismember a forward thinking part of an iconic business that is at the heart of everything a clever Tasmania purports to be.”
PA and the AMWU have repeatedly stated to Hydro and the state government that they are fully behind any growth opportunities for Entura, including partnerships and genuine joint ventures that would open up new markets. But Hydro and the people of Tasmania can achieve these opportunities without the significant risks associated with losing control and ownership of Entura.
For further comments and interviews on this release, please contact
Luke Crowley. Director, Professionals Australia (Tasmania Branch).
Phone ; 0423 024 248
John Short. Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Tasmania
Phone : 0418 839 026
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org