Power work­ers hit dou­ble-pay jack­pot

The West Australian - - NEWS - Daniel Mercer

Dozens of power work­ers em­ployed by Syn­ergy and Western Power are be­ing paid more than dou­ble their salary, with some earn­ing more than the Premier.

De­spite an un­prece­dented clam­p­down on pub­lic sec­tor wages, fig­ures ob­tained by the Op­po­si­tion show 24 em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing 22 at Syn­ergy, re­ceived more than twice as much as their base salary in the year to June 30.

Among them were 21 work­ers with a base salary of $138,877 who took home more than $280,000, in­clud­ing one who col­lected $380,566 for the year.

Premier Mark Mc­Gowan’s to­tal pay is $355,681.

All bar two of the Syn­ergy em­ploy­ees were power sta­tion con­trollers, who op­er­ate gen­er­a­tors and en­sure volt­age, fre­quency and dispatch re­quire­ments are main­tained.

Two Western Power em­ploy­ees earned more than dou­ble their salary, with a line worker on $98,709 tak­ing home $220,000 and a team leader on $105,000 a year earn­ing $230,000.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Mike Na­han said the pay­ments were “union-or­ches­trated” and demon­strated why power sec­tor unions were so op­posed to open­ing the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try to com­pe­ti­tion. Dr Na­han ac­cused the Govern­ment of pro­tect­ing such ex­cesses at the ex­pense of elec­tric­ity con­sumers.

“The only rea­son WA fam­i­lies can’t have a choice in where they buy their elec­tric­ity is be­cause union fat cats want to pro­tect th­ese type of rorts,” he said.

“Thou­sands of house­holds are on their knees be­cause the Mc­Gowan Govern­ment in­creased their elec­tric­ity costs by 11 per cent but pro­tected work­ers are tak­ing home up to three times their salary.”

En­ergy Min­is­ter Ben Wy­att said the pay con­di­tions had been ne­go­ti­ated un­der the pre­vi­ous govern­ment but it was ex­pected La­bor’s tough wages pol­icy would be ap­plied in fu­ture.

A Syn­ergy spokesman said the work­ers’ pay was in line with the work­place agree­ment struck last year and re­flected “base salary com­po­nent plus all al­lowances, all over­time, leave load­ings and su­per­an­nu­a­tion con­tri­bu­tions”.

“Power sta­tion op­er­a­tors have a high level of re­spon­si­bil­ity and op­er­ate across shift­work pat­terns on a 24 hours-a-day, seven days-aweek and 365 days-a-year ba­sis,” the spokesman said.

“Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als are highly trained over a long pe­riod of time for the safe op­er­a­tion of high-en­ergy in­dus­trial equip­ment.”

A Western Power spokesman said both its em­ploy­ees per­formed “spe­cialised tasks in re­sponse to emer­gency and haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions”.

House­holds are on their knees. Op­po­si­tion Leader Mike Na­han

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