Energy Australia has said that the CFMEU bid to control operating decisions of the Yallourn power station would add to production costs that would ultimately be passed on to consumers through higher electricity prices.

The most recent strike by members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) ended on the 4th April, causing a 20 per cent cut in the plant’s power generation. There may be subsequent repeats of the 24 hour strike, with Fair Work Australia approving an unlimited number of strikes during the negotiations. Energy Australia have been in negotiations with the CFMEU over a new four year wage agreement, with a consult-and-agreement clause which would compel management to ask them before making major changes causing disagreement between the parties.

Energy Australia boss Michael Hutchinson said the demands would add costs to consumers:

“The CFMEU demands would reduce the competitiveness of the Yallourn operation and undermine its economic viability in the medium to long term,” Mr Hutchinson said.

The CFMEU has commented that the dispute is not about pay and strikes have come from eight months of negotiations with nothing to show for.

“We want a consult-and-agree clause where if we don’t agree, it would end up in Fair Work and they would have it consulted and arbitrated,” Mining division state secretary Greg Hardy said.

The Yallourn power plant supplies eight per cent of the nation’s power, and 22 per cent of Victoria’s power.