Depot closures spark Ergon employee fears
LOCAL Ergon Energy workers could be forced to choose between a commute to Toowoomba or a redundancy package, as the Newman Government plans to close regional depots in what the Electrical Trades Union is dubbing a "betrayal of the bush".
Forty-five Ergon Energy depots with 8-15 employees are being examined for closure, including Stanthorpe.
ETU state secretary Peter Simpson said the government bypassed the union, sending Ergon officials directly to regional centres to break the news, and leaving local workers anxious.
"You can imagine the angst in these areas - these people don't know if they're going to have a job," Mr Simpson said.
Mr Simpson said employees were currently safeguarded by contracting arrangements, which stipulate no forced redundancies or transfers.
But he said workers could be left vulnerable when the contract expires in 2015.
According to Mr Simpson, workers would likely be forced to choose between a redundancy package and a transfer to Toowoomba - sparking fresh concerns about the security of Stanthorpe's power supply.
"If your power goes out, add the time it normally takes to get it going plus the time it takes to drive down from Toowoomba," Mr Simpson said.
"You can imagine the delay in response times in emergency situations."
Concerned locals have been circulating petitions, appealing to Local Member Lawrence Springborg to save the Stanthorpe depot.
Mr Springborg declined to comment on the "opportunistic claims of unions", opting to wait until the government's consultations reach a final outcome.
Mr Simpson said the move to close regional depots was the Newman Government's first step towards selling state-owned assets, as recommended by Peter Costello's Commission of Audit Report.
To join the ETU's campaign, visit www.not4sale.org.au or search Not4Sale on Facebook.