Sydney Water to outsource frontline maintenance

Frontline maintenance positions at Sydney Water’s St Marys plant will be outsourced to the private sector from July 1 next year.

Sydney Water stands by last week’s decision to outsource 135 electricians and fitter positions at six Sydney locations include St Marys, which opened two years ago.

Independent Pricing and Regulator Tribunal has asked Sydney Water to save $173 million in business efficiencies over the next four years.

A Sydney Water spokeswoman said affected staff will be offered a range of options and negotiated agreements and that more than half will be transferred to the private contractor.

The Star understands around 20 jobs will be cut at St Marys, many of them long-serving staff.

Employees were initially willing to speak to the Star but later had a change of heart.

Sydney Water was involved in a Fair Work Australia hearing on Friday regarding plans to reduce redundancy entitlements.

The Electrical Trades Union believes the number of affected jobs is closer to 150.

Union secretary Steve Butler said the announcement came as a huge shock to employees and that the decision may have powerful ramifications for the rest of the community.

Sydney Water refuted Mr Butler’s claims outsourcing will result in higher water bills, increased contamination risks and poor reliability.

‘‘These proposed efficiencies will not impose any costs onto our customers. In the long term they will benefit from reduced bills,’’ the spokeswoman said.

She was unable to say whether more jobs will be outsourced.

‘‘To meet this target, we are making savings across the whole business to drive downward pressure on consumer prices, without compromising quality service and safety. Like any good business, Sydney Water is committed to continuously looking to operate more efficiently for our customers.

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