Welcome to Western Sydney Business Access

 fb tw yt in 

Energy workers voicve their frustraions at Parramatta. Energy workers voicve their frustraions at Parramatta. Featured


"We are essential workers who always show up" 
WORKERS at two of the country’s largest energy providers, Endeavour Energy and Transgrid, walked out for 24 hours on Thursday.
They staged the strike at Parramatta Square talking on microphone expressing frustration over wages that have not kept pace with skyrocketing living costs since the pandemic.
They are seeking eight percent more annually over the next three years or 24 percent overall which Endeavour Energy has rejected.
An Endeavour Energy substation staff on strike, Mick McGuire told Access News they intend to down the tools for longer until their corporate employers and politicians hear them out.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but I know many younger sparkies out here with families and kids who are having a tough time keeping up with high inflation, so we just want fair wage increases for what we’re doing," he said.
“We may not all be on the same boat with [impacts on our] pockets because my kids are now in their twenties, but no matter what stage in life we’re in, we should be getting a fair share when you see these executives getting big pay rises.
“We are essential workers in this industry, we go out in rain, hail or sunshine to keep the supply on for consumers.”
Mr McGuire, 62, from Illawarra, recounted his first home loan was slugged 13 percent interest rate in late 1980s during Labor prime minister Paul Keating’s time in government when interest rates jumped over 17 percent.
“It was terribly hard for me and my wife because by the end of the first year paying off a mortgage, it was more than 13 percent. It was difficult not knowing where your next meal would come from or when pay would come through,” he said.
“I can see the same thing with the younger generation of today who cannot even afford to rent a place to live in because the weekly cost is too high.
“Most young people dream of owning a home, bring up a family and afford things comfortably but these days, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Endeavour Energy workers said their wages have risen by 10.5 percent since 2019, while Transgrid workers had eight percent over the same period, however their wages were thinning with skyrocketing prices of basic needs and housing.
The workers claimed inflationary rate is realistically at 18 percent and not seven percent according to Reserve Bank calculations because of evidence of excessive costs on housing, groceries and other basic financial obligations they spend on since the pandemic in 2019.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics December 2023 consumer price index showed inflation up by 3.4 percent with insurances at its highest to date at 8.2 percent, alcohol and tobacco at 6.8 percent, housing at 5.2 percent and food and non-alcoholic drinks at 4 percent.
Roy Morgan also released its findings last December revealing 1.5 million mortgage holders or 30 percent of borrowers are under financial strain since 2022 when the RBA began interest rate increases now at 4.1 percent since last October.
It's lower than the 35 percent extremely at-risk mortgage holders during the global financial crisis in 2008 nevertheless their current numbers are at record high since May 2022, Roy Morgan said.
“Workers simply cannot afford to keep going backwards, pay rises have moved at half the rate of the inflation, [while] take home pay is shrinking,” Electrical Trades Union secretary Allen Hicks said.
“We’ll continue ramping up industrial action until these bosses agree to sit down and agree to a pay deal that recognised the surging cost of living. The deal will help energy workers catch up.”
A worker with a young family to support on $65,000 a year is likely experiencing severe financial stress, Mr McGuire said.
An Endeavour Energy spokesperson confirmed they offered an upfront $1,000 extra pay, then 5.25 percent from July 1 this year, 3.25 percent from July 1 in 2025, and 2.75 percent from July 1 in 2026.
“Our discussions on the enterprise agreement continue and we are committed to working constructively with our employees throughout this process,” the spokesperson said.
“Given the current economic conditions, we feel fortunate to put forward a proposal to our employees that is fair and reasonable and recognises the important work they do each day.”  
The spokesperson said the ETU demand was not sustainable because “they add significant costs to the business without productivity or efficiency improvements”.
On top of the eight percent annual increases, the spokesperson said, there were 65 other working condition demands but she did not elaborate on the claims.
“While we respect the right of unions to strike, we believe more progress can be made by focusing on negotiations,” the spokesperson said.
The ETU said its industrial action could result in a maintenance backlog and disrupt operations, including Transgrid’s $2.3B ongoing 900 kilometres transmission lines project with electricity interconnector, EnergyConnect.
Endeavour Energy is partly owned by the NSW government, and it operates the electrical network from Ulladulla in the NSW Shoalhaven region, up to Waterfall and Western Sydney. 
TransGrid was privatised in 2015 and whose owners are the Utilities Trust of Australia, Spark Infrastructure, and Tawreed Investments.
Transgrid has been contacted for comment.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.