The union that represents electrical professionals in the power and construction industries has slammed the decision of key crossbench senators to pass an amendment to the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation.
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The planned changes are going to shorten the period of time for companies to comply, while failing to address flaws in the legislation that will see it apply to essential services like electricity, for which it was never intended. 

Electrical Trades Union national secretary Allen Hicks blasts the government and the crossbench, stating they had no mandate for the legislation, and this will sow the seed of industrial chaos and endanger lives.

"The government is hiding behind their building code to blackmail the building industry - and now power industry companies and workers too - into implementing their rabid industrial relations agenda at taxpayer expense, without ever having gained a mandate from the public," Hicks said.

"This legislation will cause industrial disharmony, skilled labour shortages, and increase the number of injuries and deaths of people working in power and construction.

"Senators Hanson, Hinch and Xenophon should be ashamed of their support for it."

The building code bans clauses limiting the use of 457 visa workers on projects, mandating the hiring of apprentices, enforcing safety standards, or preventing sub-contractors from undercutting wages.

Hicks was particularly scathing about the failure of crossbench senators to address the effect of the bill on people working for power supply companies, who had been caught up in legislation that was ostensibly aimed at the construction industry.

"Because of this blunt and poorly-drafted legislation, the industrial peace and cooperation that has existed for more than a decade in the South Australian power sector is precarious." Hicks said.

"Senator Xenophon had every opportunity to address this disaster by supporting an amendment exempting utilities from the effect of the ABCC and building code, and he refused to act.

"We made Senator Xenophone aware of the implications of the bull well before parliament sat this year, on February 1, but he has sat on his hands since then."

Hicks added that Senator Xenophon had the best opportunity to represent the interests of the state, but failed to do so. 

"People working in the South Australian power industry have been ambushed by an incompetent government and its malicious legislation, and Senator Xenophon knew the ambush was coming and did nothing to prevent it." Hicks said.

"Power industry workers will know who to blame when their wages fall and their workplace gets clogged with red tape.

"South Australian power users will know who to blame when the company spends more time dealing with industrial and compliance issues, and takes longer to fix power outages.

"Senator Xenophon could easily have resolved this crisis, but chose not to, and he's likely to feel the repercussions of his decision at the ballot box."