The announcement comes after MEU has been granted an order for a protected industrial action by the Fair Work Commission.
According to the union, the issue at hand is due to CS Energy‘s failure to comply with the Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter and lack of clear government direction regarding job security, career development, and retention initiatives for coal-fired power station workers amid the unravelling Queensland energy plan.
The Charter was signed in September 2022 by CS Energy, Queensland Government representatives, industry groups, and other government-owned energy providers and entities.
Among the Charter’s provisions is securing the workforce, which includes the Job Security Guarantee. However, the union calls for assurance that contractors will not replace workers.
Kogan’s MEU members demand fair compensation for casual employees and guarantees against contractor replacement, as well as fair attraction and retention provisions in the Enterprise Agreement (EA) to ensure safe and efficient plant operation.
MEU Queensland District Vice-President Shane Brunker warned the situation could rapidly escalate and significantly impact power generation across Queensland.
“The Queensland Government need to get around a table with the Unions and CS Energy, which it owns, and resolve how the Queensland Energy Workers’ Charter will provide security and a future for the Kogan workers,” Brunker said.
He noted that CS Energy requires government direction to complete negotiations, as severe consequences could arise during the State’s peak summer power generation period.
“This round of EA negotiations are critical to the largest Union membership in Queensland generation industry and given the challenges ahead with the transformation of our industry and we have to get it right, the MEU are “fighting today for our tomorrow”,” he added.
In a statement released in late August, CS Energy said it is committed to swiftly completing negotiations to ensure employees have certainty about their future pay and working conditions.
The company claimed to have made an offer that would provide employees with “generous terms and conditions” but recognised that some issues couldn’t be resolved during negotiations.
“We respect the rights of union members to take protected industrial action, but hopefully it doesn’t need to come to that,” CS Energy stated.
Due to shutdowns at Callide Power Station and other plants, industrial action might exacerbate Queensland’s energy security situation, perhaps triggering extensive power outages, particularly at the Kogan power station.
In anticipation of the industrial action, CS Energy said, “Planning is underway should protected action occur to ensure the safety of our people and plant, and minimise any impact on the operation of the power station.”
The Kogan Creek Power Station is one of Australia’s most efficient and technologically advanced coal-fired power stations, with the capacity to produce up to 750 megawatts of baseload power.
Currently, there are over 120 workers at the Kogan Creek power station and another 80 at the Kogan mine, which supplies coal to the facility, according to the union.
“The Fair Work Commission has provided the order allowing for protected industrial action and there was a strong yes vote by the membership, accordingly the MEU have submitted action items to commence this Thursday 21 September,” Brunker said.