Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has agreed to a request from power companies Ergon, Energex and Powerlink to include a “no forced redundancies” clause in their offer to workers during current enterprise negotiations.
Mr Nicholls said the companies had written to him asking for a one-off Essential Services Employment Security provision to be offered to existing employees.
“Between them, these companies employ almost 8,500 Queenslanders working around the State to ensure safe and reliable transmission and distribution of electricity,” Mr Nicholls said.
“The companies have been talking with workers throughout the current enterprise agreement negotiations and they know employment security is a major concern for staff.”
Mr Nicholls said the Government remained committed to the simplification of employment agreements, including the removal of the “no forced redundancy” provisions for most government owned corporations.
But he said the power distribution companies faced exceptional circumstances which made employment security for existing workers a priority.
Those circumstances include “the scale of the companies, their broad reach, and their pivotal role in transmitting and delivering an essential service to Queenslanders”.
“Providing employment security to existing employees for the duration of new employment agreements will enable the companies to promote business continuity and stability during a period of potential transition to lease arrangements,” Mr Nicholls said.
Mr Nicholls said it was now up to the power companies to make the offer to their employees as part of the enterprise agreement process.
The employment security provision would come into effect only if offered employment agreements are approved in employee ballots.
“Importantly, as Queensland heads into storm season, this option will offer employees peace-of-mind about their futures, so they can focus on their vital work maintaining a safe and reliable electricity supply to all Queenslanders,” he said.