By Sophia Joyce
Trade unions are gearing up to fight any plan by the Barnett government to privatise Western Power.
The troubled utility is reportedly earmarked for privatisation because it is $8 billion in debt.
Although the proposal for privatisation was postponed in Premier Colin Barnett’s last state budget, it is now back on the table, with Australian superannuation funds said to be interested in buying it.
A spokesperson for the Community & Public Sector Union/ Civil Service Association (CPSU/CSA) said government workers are against the privatisation of Western Power, as it will increase charges, decrease maintenance and cut government jobs.
“Currently Western Power is a profitable enterprise, putting money back into the community and helping pay for other government services.
“Privatising will lead to big business controlling our power supply and cutting corners to make a profit. That’s not what WA wants.”
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) WA’s General Trade Organiser Joe Fiala agrees and says there are a number of issues with the privatisation of Western Power including higher rates for consumers.
“History shows all around the country and potentially all around the world that every power distribution system that has been privatised actually costs consumers more money.
“If you have a look at South Australia, [which was] the first to be leased or privatised in the early 2000’s, and they now pay the highest costs in Australia for their power.”
The ETU is also concerned with job losses for workers and apprentices if Western Power is privatised.
“We’ve seen already two major rounds of redundancies in Western Power, where over 300 people have been made redundant, some forced, some voluntary and those jobs are gone forever, we won’t get those back, so that’s jobs lost out of the system for our kids and their kids.
“Back in 2013 there were over 100 apprentices in Western Power and now they are down to about 72.”
The Bounce News approached Western Power for comment but no-one was available.
Unions across Western Australia including the CPSU/CSA, UnionsWA, the Australian Trades Union and the Electrical Trades Union have joined together to campaign against the privatisation of Western Power with an event that will be held on the 15th of November.