Expect disruptions at Sydney Water: unions

Sat July 21, 2012 6:05am

UNIONS are warning of significant disruptions to Sydney Water services in the coming months after maintenance engineers voted to take industrial action.

About 150 workers voted to take protected action during a mass meeting in Sydney on Friday, Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) NSW secretary Tim Ayres told AAP.

Whether this will involve work bans and stoppages will be decided in the coming weeks, he said.

"We don't want to disrupt the public but there are going to be some consequences for water supply.

"There are going to be significant disruptions in the coming months."

Mr Ayres says workers, who are negotiating a new enterprise agreement, are concerned Sydney Water is attempting to outsource their jobs to private operators to cut costs.

"Maintenance engineers are particularly worried about their redundancy entitlements if their jobs are transferred to private operators.

"Some of these engineers have been with Sydney Water for 20-plus years, but under Sydney Water's proposal their redundancy entitlements aren't guaranteed if the jobs are outsourced.

"Maintenance of Sydney's drinking water is an essential service. It shouldn't be left to profit-driven private operators, who will cut corners on water maintenance to save a dollar."

The vote comes after about 1000 workers downed tools at the beginning of the month following the axing of more than 300 jobs in the past year.

The Australian Services Union says the cuts were the result of a directive to Sydney Water from the NSW government to increase dividends.

Sydney Water has previously said that the current enterprise agreements, which expired on June 30, had some employer conditions that "far exceeded industry standards".





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