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AURORA Energy has lost a multimillion-dollar contract to carry out electrical safety inspections in state government buildings to a Victorian company.

The decision of Workplace Standards Tasmania to drop Aurora in favour of TechSafe Australia was yesterday described as “privatisation by stealth” by the Communications, Electrical, and Plumbing Union of Australia.

Union state secretary Rodney Burles said taxpayers would foot the bill of losing 22 full-time equivalent staff at Aurora, who were likely to be re-employed by TechSafe.

“Safety inspections should never have been contracted out in the first place. They should be run directly by Workplace Standards _ they are too important to be privatised,” Mr Burles said.

“These blokes will get redundancy payments from Aurora and walk into the same jobs they were doing before, for more pay.”

Aurora distribution chief operations officer Andre Botha said it was disappointing to lose the bid.

“This is a disappointing outcome for Aurora and the team of 16 electrical inspectors and six support staff and a manager, who have been employed by Aurora to conduct this work independently for WST over more than a decade,” Mr Botha said.

He said Aurora would work closely with affected staff before TechSafe took over in March. Some could be redeployed.

A Justice Department spokesman said five bids were submitted for the five-year Workplace Standards contract which was worth $3 million to $5 million.

He said in the first instance bids were assessed on an ability to supply the service.

As a result, three bids were shortlisted and their value-for-money compared.

“TechSafe met both measures with the highest quality of service and lowest cost,” the spokesman said.

TechSafe has written to Workplace Standards about approaching all Aurora workers with a job offer and, if there are still vacancies, advertising for Tasmanian workers.

Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne said the Aurora bid was not competitive.

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