Unionists protest MP's lack of action on jobs
MORE than 75 Electrical Trades Union members from across Queensland held a rally outside Ipswich MP Ian Berry's office in Booval yesterday to protest at his attitude towards local job losses and to ramp up their opposition to expected LNP asset sales.
Several of the protesters were from Swanbank E Power Station, where 33 workers will lose their jobs due to mothballing of the plant by the government-owned Stanwell Corporation.
The protesters in attendance told the QT they were outraged by the LNP's Mr Berry joking around and posing in front of a giant billboard in Bundamba last week, that attacked his stance on job losses.
ETU state secretary Peter Simpson said Mr Berry was "poking 33 families in the eye" with his attitude.
"The article in the paper the other day where Ian Berry was posing in front of the billboard saying it wasn't big enough and saying members who were about to lose their jobs had a good job because they were made redundant... was just outrageous.
"We have supply industry delegates from across the state who are angry about that, and they wanted to come out and show him how angry they are about his smart arse comments.
"There will be more of this. The billboard will stay up longer than I planned and we will campaign against him right up to the next election."
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Mr Berry had an employee hand-deliver a letter at the rally yesterday to ETU supply industry organiser Stuart Traill, which said: "Unfortunately I am not able to join you at your rally today because, as you would be aware, Parliament is sitting this week. However, I am always available to meet a delegation, or an individual constituent, to discuss issues of concern.
"Please do not hesitate to contact my office to arrange a mutually convenient time."
That didn't wash with Mr Simpson.
"I wrote him a letter the day (job losses) were announced and he didn't reply. So it (the letter) is something to just placate the crowd I am guessing," he said.
"He was invited to Swanbank. Sean Choat, to his credit, showed up. This bloke didn't even respond. What does that say about the guy?"
Mr Berry said his door was "always open" and that he had welcomed a delegation of doctors recently and had gone out of his way to help a railway guard who had approached him to sort out several issues.
"I will take any delegation that relates to anything in my electorate," he said.
"But nobody (from the ETU) has approached me. All we got was a letter to say they were having a union meeting at Stanwell. No-one rang me about it.
"But most people come to the office where we can sit down and talk about strategies. We could have discussed better redundancy packages or how many jobs they could take up at Tarong.
"There are a lot of things that could be negotiated, but they decided to do the political thing and protest."