Monday, 16 June 2008

NSW power sell-off: workers prepare response to parliament vote

By Dick Nichols

SYDNEY—A mass meeting of Central Coast power industry workers voted on July 11 for an “immediate stoppage of work by all members across the industry If the sell off legislation is passed by the Lower House of NSW Parliament”.

The meeting also resolved to lift current overtime bans and “comply with the terms of our awards and agreement” and that “if any member is disciplined or has their employment harmed in any way there will be an immediate set cessation of work by all members.”

Before the mass meeting discussed the resolution it was addressed by Greens Member of the Legislative Council (upper house) John Kaye, the most prominent parliamentary opponent of the Iemma government’s electricity privatisation plan.

As the behind-the-scenes battle for MPs votes continues in Macquarie Street the “word” is that Iemma could well lose the numbers in the Legislative Council—provided the Liberals don’t vote to support the power sell-off. The Central Coast mass meeting resolution seems aimed at putting spine into wavering upper house ALP MPs: if enough join the Nationals and Greens and the Liberals also vote against the power sell-off it will be dead.

Speculation is also rife as to if and when the sell-off legislation will next be debated in parliament, with many convinced that there is no way it Iemma will reintroduce it in this session if he is not certain of “the numbers”.

In the meantime the Stop the Sell-Off Community Group, which meets weekly in Sydney and brings together rank-and-file ALPers, Greens, socialists and union activists, decided to prepare an afternoon protest picket outside Parliament House during the present parliamentary session. The group will ask Unions NSW and individual electricity sector unions to advertise the action when the details are finalised.

The group also continues to organise Saturday stalls in Sydney shopping centres, gathering signatures against the sell-off and keeping people up to date on the campaign. Details of the stalls are available of the Socialist Alliance web site at

Meetings of the Stop the Sell-Off Community Group take place every Wednesday in the AMWU building, Chalmers Street, Surry Hills. For details contact Colin Drane on 0419 698 396.

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