Skeleton crews continue Seroja recovery works in Mid West during Electrical Trade Union strike

Phoebe Pin & Ben HarveyGeraldton Guardian
Western Power Chief Executive Officer.
Camera IconWestern Power Chief Executive Officer. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Some Western Power employees have worked through a two-day union strike to ensure hundreds of Mid West residents affected by cyclone Seroja-related outages are reconnected as soon as possible.

Western Power head Ed Kalajzic and Electrical Trades Union assistant State secretary Brendan Reeve met on Wednesday afternoon but did not reach agreement over a long-running pay claim by workers.

More than 800 workers continued their strike yesterday in protest over the State-owned utility’s refusal to bend to the union’s demands.

A Western Power spokesperson said reconnections related to cyclone Seroja outages would continue across the Shire of Northampton but the industrial ac-tion would delay recovery work.

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“As there is a union ban on planned overtime there will be less workers available this weekend, although some resources will be available, which means recovery is continuing but will be delayed,” the spokesperson said.

“We expect crews to be back at work on Monday.”

About 284 homes, farms and businesses are yet to be connected across the Mid West, with 125 of those properties in the Shire of Northampton. Shire chief executive Garry Keeffe said he could not comment on the strike itself but praised Western Power staff for their work to restore power to the region.

“Considering the amount of poles and lines that have been damaged, it is an amazing effort, I believe,” he said.

“We have got some rural areas that have been without power since the cyclone, which is now five weeks away ... we would like to get power restored to all our rural areas affected by the cyclone.”

Central to the industrial dispute is Western Power’s use of contractors, which the union says subverts pay and conditions in the sector.

The union also wants higher rates of pay in hot weather or when it rains.

WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said he would talk to the union after the strike.

Destroyed powerlines in Kalbarri a few weeks after cylone Seroja.
Camera IconDestroyed powerlines in Kalbarri a few weeks after cylone Seroja. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

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