Cuts to maintenance staff throws Western Power into disarray

Friday 13 Jan 2017

Massive cuts to Western Power staff numbers over the last two years, has seen the reduced number of maintenance crews seriously stretched as they responded to the black outs resulting from this week’s colder weather that left over 30,000 households without power.

Earlier this week a cold front producing light rain, and combining with dust on insulators from recent dry weather, caused the large outage.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) have consistently warned of the consequences for the community that would flow from significant cuts to Western Power staffing levels.

Electrical Trades Union State Secretary Les McLaughlan said it was clear recent job cuts were already having an impact on the community.

“What happened earlier this week wasn’t a major climatic or natural disaster event, rather a low level cold front, and a bit of light rain,

“Yet what we’re now seeing is a seriously stretched and under-staffed maintenance section struggling to restore power to thousands of households after several days,

“The Barnett Government has stripped hundreds of staff from Western Power’s maintenance section and halved the number of after hours faults and repairs crews, as it has tried to make Western Power look as profitable as possible prior to privatisation, 

“It’s clear from this weeks outages that we don’t have to wait until Western Power is privatised to see the impact of job losses and associated cuts to maintenance, on the community.”

ASU WA Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said this week's events were a sign of things to come under a privatised Western Power, and should be a wake up call to the Western Australian community.

“First up it was the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs as the Barnett Government cut costs at Western Power to make it more attractive to potential purchasers,

“We’re now seeing lower staffing levels resulting in significantly longer response times, and extended power outages for WA households and businesses,

“Privatisation would only see further job cuts and the quality of services suffer even more, as private owners try to squeeze every last dollar of profit for their shareholders,

“With privatisation, the community always pays.”