State's energy security threatened as union action continues

THE State's energy security has come under threat as industrial action continues at Darling Downs Power Station.

Negotiations between the CMFEU and power station operators Origin Energy for a new enterprise agreement have stretched out for ten months and 14 meetings with no end in sight.

Now, ongoing industrial action has amped up - raising the stakes for the entire state.

CMFEU district vice-president Shane Brunker said the action has got the power station limited to only 300 megawatts of production which "will affect the security of electricity in Queensland".

"It may cause load-shedding in certain areas, subject to the demand," Mr Brunker said.

"If we get a cold snap they'll be asked to come online and they won't be able to produce the power.

"I don't wish that on anyone."

Origin confirmed the production limit is in place until May 29 due to the industrial action, but with a low autumn and winter demand the restrictions have a limited impact on the power station's output - and don't place pressure on supply across the network. 

Mr Brunker said power station workers started industrial action on April 27 - which has been continuous every day since - but have only walked off the job once.

Origin initiated discussions about renegotiating the enterprise agreement before it expired, and tabled an offer in November.

Union negotiations have centred around fixing a work-life balance that had left workers "captive" to the power station.

Mr Brunker said the last meeting with Origin, held on May 10, seemed promising, with plans for another meeting next Thursday.

But then, without explanation, Origin changed its tune.

"We were notified mid this week that Origin had revised their position and no further negotiations will take place and they will be putting their document out for a vote," Mr Brunker said.

"It's a slap in the face for the negotiators because we left that meeting on the understanding that we send in another three dates running into June, it did look like there might have been some headway being made," he said.

Mr Brunker said the company hadn't responded to his question about the chance of stance, which will see the current document put up for a vote without addressing any of the union's items.

But he's confident the document won't fly for the workers.

"We had a mass meeting last night and to a man they all said it'll be vote no, so we're running a vote no campaign, I don't think I'll have to do too much work for that!"

In April an Origin Energy spokesman told the Chinchilla News the company "will continue to work with all parties in good faith to achieve a resolution and will reinvest in the plant to ensure its viability".

An Origin Energy spokesman said that statement still holds true, and the company still intends to hold the meeting on May 30, where the company planned to discuss the proposal. 

An Origin statement in April said claims about unfair work conditions were "untrue".

"Employees are engaged under a salary package that compensates for reasonable additional hours over a year," the statement said.