Qualified EnergyAustralia operators have worked tirelessly over the past three days, bringing back into service two units at Yallourn Power Station, after all three operating units tripped on Friday.
On Friday morning (21 June), the CFMEU significantly escalated industrial action at Yallourn Power Station, effectively taking control of generation from the station and would have likely led to a complete closure.
EnergyAustralia took employer response action, advising the union that the 75 operators were being locked out due to their escalated industrial action where they were refusing to carry out their duties.
Victoria Police are now investigating the circumstances around how the three units operating at the time tripped, a fire and the cessation of electricity generation.
EnergyAustralia Group Executive Manager, Operations and Construction, Michael Hutchinson commended the employees who had worked hard to safely reinstate two generating units.
“Qualified EnergyAustralia employees on site worked tirelessly over the weekend to bring back one of our four units, with a second unit brought on line this morning,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We now have generation up and running which means we can support all of the jobs we currently have on site.
“There will be a full investigation into the cause of the fire and the loss of the generating units with legal action taken as required.”
Following the CFMEU’s escalation of industrial action on Friday, the union’s four-month industrial campaign has now cost EnergyAustralia more than $10 million.
Mr Hutchinson said EnergyAustralia took employer response action, because the CFMEU had effectively taken control of generation at the power station on Friday morning.
“It was untenable to have the CFMEU control our power plant under their industrial action,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“To continue to supply power to Victorians and support the broader Yallourn workforce, we intend to operate the station without the 75 CFMEU operators who refuse to do their job.”
Mr Hutchinson said the CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Luke van der Meulen had made a number of assertions about why the CFMEU had undertaken its damaging industrial campaign against EnergyAustralia.
“However, we offered employees exactly the same agreement that Mr van der Meulen signed up to four years ago but with significant pay increases and further concessions on working arrangements. We did not ask a single additional thing of our employees in return,” he said.
“We have been prepared to make concessions as part of the negotiation however we need an agreement that maintains the existing flexibility we have and we need to stay competitive and support 500 jobs in the Latrobe Valley. Our business is dealing with a number of challenges including reduced demand and this has already resulted in redundancies across the business.
“Our customers have faced significant electricity price rises in recent years. While we originally made an offer that was significantly above average wage inflation, wage rises in the Latrobe Valley must be brought into line with wage inflation in the broader economy if the industry is to control these costs and their impact on electricity prices.”