A state-owned energy corporation has been given the nod to retrench hundreds of workers across New South Wales.
Essential Energy recently received approval to slash at least 600 regional jobs across the Premier State. It follows extensive consultation across a full bench at the Fair Work Commission, and means the distributor could begin forced redundancies within weeks.
The decision also removes any restriction of forced job cuts from 1 July 2018, allowing an unlimited number of highly-skilled power workers from rural and regional communities across the state to be axed.
QMEB has learnt Essential Energy management plans to use outsourcing to carry-out further cuts, with an ultimate goal of having one in every two positions made redundant, effectively halving the number of employees to 1600 as early as the 2019 financial year.
Fair Work Commission (FWC) rejected an earlier submission from unions that no redundancies occur before the Christmas New Year period, allowing Essential Energy to move on redundancies within weeks.
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and United Services Union (USU) slammed the decision and urged the State Government to intervene.
“[This] decision means that, within the next two years, up to 1600 highly-skilled power workers who live and work in regional NSW could be without a job,” ETU deputy secretary Dave McKinley says.
“The economic and social impact of such huge job cuts — which will tear hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economies of rural communities — will be untold human suffering in the communities the National Party claims to represent.
“This is our challenge for John Barilaro: show that the National Party has learnt from the Orange byelection, stop towing the State Government’s line, and demand that this publicly-owned company not press ahead with these wholesale job cuts.”
USU reveals unions also seeking an assistance package from the State Government to help Essential Energy workers who lose their jobs, with retraining, small business advice and recognition of skills and training.
“This decision is one of the biggest blows to employment in regional NSW that has ever occurred,” USU general secretary Graeme Kelly says.
“The NSW Government, as the owner of 100 per cent of Essential Energy, has the power to intervene and save these jobs.
“All that is needed is for John Barilaro and his National Party colleagues to demand that their coalition partners in the NSW Government put the interests of regional communities ahead of their attempts to squeeze profits out of public companies.”