Power industry job cuts slammed

July 3, 2015
United Services Union energy manger Scott McNamara criticised the rushed nature of the proposed cuts.

Unions have slammed plans to axe more than 2700 jobs from the NSW power industry this year. Publicly owned electricity network companies Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy have revealed plans to cut 2749 jobs from September, offering staff just one week to consult on the proposal.

The announcement follows the recent passage of legislation by the NSW government to privatise the power "poles and wires" network. The proposed job cuts are part of preparations for the sale of long-term leases for the three public power companies.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and United Services Union (USU), representing the power workers, condemned the draft redundancy policies released on June 29 by the three companies, which not only implement the use of forced redundancies, but greatly reduce the severance payments made to employees who "involuntarily" leave.

The unions said long-serving staff who wish to continue working, but are forced out against their will, will be left tens of thousands of dollars worse off under the plan.

ETU state secretary Steve Butler said the draft policies revealed that the three companies already had a "hit list" of staff whose jobs they intend to cut, while all other employees would in effect be required to reapply for their existing jobs.

"These companies have said that the first staff to go will be those who have previously been redeployed, along with those whose job is being discontinued at a particular location," Butler said.

"They have also revealed that they already know who these employees are — so there's a hit list of staff who are to lose their jobs, yet employees have no idea if they are on it."

"Premier Mike Baird needs to come clean on whether he has signed off on this plan, because on his watch nearly 2800 NSW families — more than half of whom are in rural or regional areas — will lose their primary income."

USU energy manager Scott McNamara criticised the rushed nature of the proposal, as well as the attempt to blame the proposed job cuts on the Australian Energy Regulator, which recently ordered the NSW power companies to reduce electricity prices.

"This policy highlights the sham nature of consultation under the [Mike] Baird government, with employees given just one week to consult on how almost three thousand people may lose their jobs," McNamara said.

"Worse still, they are continuing to try to blame the energy regulator for these job cuts, which is extremely deceptive and has already been shown to be untrue.

"This decision to slash jobs is a choice of management — and appears to have been influenced by the NSW government — but it is a choice they don't have to make.”

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