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Issue #1759      November 30, 2016

Axe poised over 600 jobs

The Electrical Trades Union has written to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro seeking his urgent assistance and immediate intervention to protect regional communities after the Fair Work Commission approved publicly-owned electricity distributor Essential Energy’s plans to forcibly axe 600 jobs by July 2018, and up to 1,000 more in 2019.

The union highlighted that the latest cuts were in addition to 1,400 regional jobs that had already been cut following the NSW Liberal National government’s election in 2011, with Essential Energy issuing 789 voluntary redundancies and failing to replace hundreds of other staff who have left or retired.

ETU deputy secretary Dave McKinley challenged Barilaro and his National Party colleagues over the fact that they publicly claimed to have saved jobs at services at Essential Energy ahead of the 2015 election, while also accusing unions of running a “scare campaign” about future job cuts.

“Given that Essential Energy remains 100 percent owned and controlled by the NSW government and given that the ETU’s claims of mass job losses was in fact true, we are now seeking your assistance and immediate intervention to protect regional communities from these cuts,” McKinley wrote.

“National Party MP’s have in the past attended Essential Energy depots around the state telling staff their jobs were safe under the National Party. This false hope has contributed to our members’ distress and I believe it is now time for the NSW National Party to stand up and demonstrate that the NSW Nationals will in fact protect regional jobs at Essential Energy.”

McKinley highlighted key warnings issued by the Fair Work Commission as part of their decision, including that: “employees located in country towns will find it difficult to obtain alternative work”, “many redundant employees will have to relocate themselves and their families in order to obtain alternative employment”, and that the impacts will be acutely felt by “smaller towns in terms of the loss of income able to be spent locally and a possible diminution in community involvement”.

“Given that these issues strike at the heart of representing the interest of regional communities, regional workers and their families will you now give the ETU a commitment that the NSW Nationals will in fact stand up and protect these regional jobs,” McKinley’s letter continued.

“In its evidence to the Fair Work Commission, Essential Energy disclosed that they intend to halve their current workforce from 3,200 employees to 1,600 employees by financial year 2019 through large scale outsourcing of existing jobs.

“Given that Essential Energy disclosed this information in their submissions as part of the workplace determination court case we can only assume that it is true, as anything else would be potentially misleading the full bench which could carry serious repercussions.

“We are seeking an undertaking from NSW National Party MPs, who are an important part of the NSW Coalition government, to intervene in this matter to stop and/or minimise regional job losses at Essential Energy.”

Next article – Deportee

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