Hundreds of tradespeople suddenly lost their jobs in the Western Downs region after receiving a mobile phone message.
About 230 casual workers who worked full-time hours were dismissed without notice at Shell Australia’s Gangarri Solar Project in Woleebee, 261km northwest of Toowoomba.
Up to 60 hours a week lost
The employees, many of whom allegedly worked more than 60 hours a week, complained they were only informed about their termination in a text message sent early on Monday morning.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) suggested the decision had nothing to do with work performance and was due to a commercial dispute between two contracting companies.
“We have an appalling situation where hard-working Queenslanders, electricians and mechanical fitters have been sacked due to a ‘contractual disagreement’ between two companies Davis Contracting and Sterling & Wilson,” ETU State Secretary Peter Ong said in a public statement.
“Workers were given no notice other than a text message at 6am and they and their families face an uncertain future.”
‘Brutal’ and ‘disgusting’
Ong described the “brutal” and “disgusting” sacking as a classic example of both casual and labor hire workers being mistreated under the currently “broken” industrial relations system.
“Big businesses like Sterling & Wilson … can let workers go at a whim, they do not care how the workers are treated, it is all about getting the biggest bang for their buck,” he said.
“That is exactly what the Liberal National Party (LNP) wanted, they designed the legislation to ensure maximum flexibility at the expense of job security and this has resulted in these kinds of business models.”
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He believes many solar projects still have inadequate industrial relations framework to protect workers.
“The solar industry is a bit of a cowboy industry at the moment where due to the LNP’s inept energy policies and its failure to address protections for casual workers there is a lot of uncertainty in the industry,” he said.
“These failures in policy are leading to an influx of overseas-owned speculators who are failing to do the right thing by the owners of the solar farms and their workers. The renewables industry should be providing secure jobs to Australian workers employed by local contractors who pay their bills.”