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Unions say job cuts hobbled flood response

By Chris O'Brien, Friday February 1, 2013 - 14:27 EDT

Unions say public sector job cuts have hindered the flood disaster response.

The Electrical Trades Union says power could have been restored earlier in many places if Ergon and Energex had more staff.

Paramedics and firefighters say more staff are needed to deal with the emergency demand.

United Firefighters Union spokesman John Oliver says the flooded communities need more emergency workers.

"In terms of firefighters, we had three recruit courses cancelled last year," he said.

"Our crews are out there working exorbitant hours trying to meet this demand.

"We need more firefighters in Queensland, not less. Even in Bundaberg itself, our fire station was flooded.

"We need to meet with the minister, whom we haven't even been able to meet with yet."

Electrical Trades Union spokesman Peter Simpson says Ergon and Energex have cut 150 frontline electricians and linesmen.

"You don't have to be Albert Einstein to work out that six days some people have been without power," he said.

"Those extra 150, plus the 50 in Maryborough would have come in pretty handy at the moment.

"What happens in the next flood, the next cyclone, when those frontline workers are no longer there?

"Are people going to have to endure months and months without power?"


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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