The union has blamed the national energy regulator for slashing billions of dollars off of vital maintenance that could have catastrophic outcomes.
Electricians across the country have launched a new campaign calling for electrical maintenance to be urgently prioritised to prevent future bushfires, saying governments need to act now before a coroners report tells them to.
The Electoral Trade Union, which represents more than 70,000 electricians, apprentices and electrical workers across the country, want to force the Australian Energy Regulator (ARU) to stop cuts to electrical maintenance.
They say the ARU has slashed electricity companies’ operations budgets by $10 billion over the past 10 years, and say deadly bushfires and dangerous power outages are possible if that isn’t rectified.
In launching their new campaign on Monday, ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said the cuts were putting Australians’ lives at risk.
“The Australian Energy Regulator’s cost cutting over the past decade has left our grid dangerously neglected,” Mr Hicks said.
“Without proactive maintenance, ageing poles and wires are a risk to everyone. Faulty power lines caused five of the Black Saturday bushfires which killed 173 people.
“Rickety old poles and wires were wiped out by storms in South Australia and Melbourne and needed to be entirely replaced, leaving people without electricity for more than a week.”
Mr Hicks said ageing networks were putting workers across the country at risk.
“(Electrical workers) have no choice but to wait for the grid to fail, then work on unsafe infrastructure to restore it,” he said.
“This is a matter of life or death for communities and workers. We cannot wait until after a horrific bushfire for change.
“Commonwealth and state governments need to act now, before a Coroner’s report forces them to.”