The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) expressed their worry with the news on removing a significant requirement to evaluate the skills of Chinese electricians working with temporary visas as they could potentially endanger the Australian community.
The Union’s Allen Hicks claimed that the decision of the Government as an “absolute disgrace” as it orders the removal of the mandatory skills assessment requirement for all the Chinese workers among 10 listed occupations as part of the amendments in the new free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
Hicks is furthered angered by the idea that the Federal Government has to waive that clause under the free trade agreement with deliberate disregard to have any consultation with employers or the unions.
“It's going to create significant workplace dangers, not only just for electricians, but all those people who use electricity,” Hicks added.
Mr. Hicks added that Australians are genuinely concerned about the statistics of China’s workplace deaths. He explained how Australia has been spearheading the worldwide industry in terms of electrical safety. He was proud to claim that the country has some of the best electrical workers in the world, with several countries aiming to have the same safety standards level as the Australians.
The ETU representative explained how the compulsory assessment requirement was exclusively designed to basically protect people from any untoward accident brought about by unsafe electrical work and how the change will potentially create considerably significant dangers in the workplace.
He further discussed how when the Chinese electricians are not aware of the requirements and standards in the country and they do something wrong, nobody gets any second chances with electricity—which is the most significant, concerning part.
According to Mr. Hicks, the ETU will be working on a mounting a campaign nationwide to reverse the elimination of the controversial skills assessments.
Chief Executive Officer Scott Williams of Fire Protection Association (FPA) said his organisation was deeply worried when they were informed of the removal of the skills requirement under the FTA.
The FPA CEO explained that apparently any place where there is a critical impact on life and workplace safety and specifically in the electrical area, it is very well known that Australia, as a strong advocate for that, that obviously there exists a very high rate of electrical fires and incidents in the country.
Taking that into consideration, the FPA executive further explained that if any attempt is made to dilute, erode, erase, or discard the skills, it will be pretty obvious how everyone should see that it will only bring about more risks of fire events in the country.
Just recently, the FPA has been focusing its concerns on the importation of substandard Chinese building materials.
Mr. Williams said that giving poorly skilled electricians permission to work in the country will definitely worsen the situation. He recalled how the big fire from the year before where Infinity cable issue with electrical cabling and some 40,000-plus potential homes in Australia were installed with non-compliant electrical cables. He added that the implementation of the amendments is merely continual erosion of crucial life safety aspects. And while the public understands the economic objectives behind the new propositions, it should not be implemented at the cost of the safety of the community.