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Essential Energy delays job cuts

Geoff Helisma |

Essential Energy’s planned job cuts have been delayed following negotiations with power industry unions.

“Following consultation with unions, employees and key stakeholders Essential Energy has committed to providing more information to its employees on proposed workforce changes and extending the consultation period for potential role reductions until 16 August 2019,” EE said in a statement.

“Over the period of consultation, Essential Energy will consider feedback from its employees on any alternative cost saving measures or initiatives that may be considered as part of the workforce right‐sizing process.”

Following the negotiations the unions said in a media release that they have now been “given an opportunity to propose alternative cost saving measures and initiatives that could avert the need for redundancies”.

Essential Energy has committed to distributing information to all employees by July 19, the unions’ media release states, including “justification for role reductions, specific impacts of cuts on remaining team members and details of the tasks or functions that will cease to be performed”.

Electrical Trades Union (ETU) secretary Justin Page said it is a “tough time for Essential Energy workers, their families and colleagues”.

“After four years of deep staffing cuts at Essential Energy — which has not only devastated those workers directly impacted, but has had profound impacts on service delivery and regional communities — today’s reprieve is extremely welcome, but it is just the start,” he said.

Mr Page welcomed the support of several regional MPs, including Nationals leader, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.

“We look forward to working with them to find longer-term solutions,” Mr Page said.

“The ETU will work in a genuine and meaningful way with all parties and stakeholders to fight to protect these jobs,” he said.

“Essential Energy is still 100 per cent publicly owned, so the NSW Government has the ability to take actions to stop this devastating loss of regional jobs.

“It is great to see so many regional MPs agree with us that these cuts are unsustainable, that they are going to have huge impacts on regional NSW, and that we need to work together to stop them.

“The ETU is in the process of developing a range of proposals that we believe are viable alternatives to slashing jobs and services in the bush.”

In its statement, EE said it “is committed to maintaining downward pressure on the network component of electricity pricing by adopting new technologies, improving the way we do business and achieving operational efficiencies while ensuring a safe, reliable service for our customers”.

“The safety of our employees and the communities we serve will always be a fundamental priority as we undertake these changes to our business,” the statement said.

“Over the next three to five years, Essential Energy will progress a series of programs and initiatives to deliver a better service at lower cost.

“As we drive efficiencies in our business, we will also be ensuring that we have the right sized workforce to safely operate and maintain the network across our service territory.

“The exact locations and number of employees impacted will be determined through the consultation process and all employees affected by the changes will be fully supported through the transition.”