Units designed for disabled left idle due to bans on connecting electricity to new properties

Wireless: The units for the disabled in Wangaratta which have been left without power due to an industrial dispute between the Electrical Trades Union and AusNet Services.
Wireless: The units for the disabled in Wangaratta which have been left without power due to an industrial dispute between the Electrical Trades Union and AusNet Services.

UNITS designed for disabled residents are among the homes left in limbo by a dispute halting power connections to new properties.

Construction of the two abodes in Wangaratta finished in November, but a ban by the Electrical Trades Union on linking power has seen them remain idle.

Owner Andrew Sanderson said he was “ripping up $5000 a month” because of the ban which the union has applied as part of a row with AusNet Services over a new enterprise agreement.

He said he had a deal for a tenant to move into one of the George Street units and the Wangaratta hospital was keen to lease the other.

“There’s a risk you’re not going to get tenants, so you’re not going to turn an income, but this is month three and it’s $15,000,” Mr Sanderson said.

“Who’s got $15,000 in their back pocket?

“I’ve got to ring the bank to say I can’t pay an interest payment.”

Mr Sanderson, who consults in the disability field, said his mental health was suffering because of the situation.

“We’re in 2018, we can put people on the moon, yet we can’t negotiate to have improved wage increase – I don’t understand this,” he said.

“We can cure cancer but I can’t get electricity put on at a property.

“The government needs to step in and bring these people to the table.

“The government stopped the ambos from striking and the NSW government stopped the train drivers from striking, yet having no electricity supply is okay.”

When The Border Mail asked AusNet whether any progress had been made, spokeswoman Helina Lilley was non-specific.

“We regret that the current ETU bans are having an impact on customers who are seeking new connections,” Ms Lilley said.

“Despite the bans, we’ve been able to connect customers with health and safety issues.

“We continue to engage with the ETU to resolve the situation.”

The ETU blames AusNet for the impasse, saying for more than a year the firm had refused to commit to secure jobs and apprenticeships.