Geoff Helisma |
On Monday July 22, NSW Labor issued a media release “demanding Acting Premier John Barilaro do [sic] more to help the communities of Grafton and Port Macquarie, which between them have lost 45 jobs from Essential Energy [EE]”.
Several weeks ago, EE agreed to delay the planned job cuts following negotiations with power industry unions and 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”.
For their part, the unions said in a media release at the time that they had been “given an opportunity to propose alternative cost saving measures and initiatives that could avert the need for redundancies”.
By the time the Independent’s noon on Mondaycopy deadline arrived, employees were yet to receive promised information due on Friday July 19, according to Electrical Trade Union secretary Justin Page; however, he said he was expecting employees to receive the packs sometime on Monday.
Mr Page confirmed that 11 jobs were targeted in Grafton (34 in Port Macquarie) and said the unions and EE had met “twice last week to get more information and clarity to finalise the process”.
The awaited information included “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”, Mr Page said.
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said EE had confirmed that “165 jobs are to be axed in the latest round of cuts from the NSW Government”.
“Port Macquarie and Grafton have unemployment rates of 6.5 and 10.1 per cent respectively,” Ms McKay said.
“The Nationals and Mr Barilaro constantly talk about how they are standing up for the regions but they have done nothing to stop Liberal cuts to services in the regions.
“Jobs like these are vital to regional communities.
“The families and the businesses and services that rely on these jobs are facing a tough future as a result of these heartless cuts.”
Mr Barilaro has previously said the Nationals “will not accept forced job cuts” at EE.
Meanwhile, shadow minister for the north coast Adam Searle joined the Labor chorus, taking a swipe at Member for Port Macquarie Lesley Williams and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, indirectly referring to their vows to, as Mr Gulaptis put it, “fight for essential energy jobs”.
“This is another kick in the guts for regional workers,” Mr Searle said.
“Barilaro says he’s standing up for jobs in the regions but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“He needs to say today how his government is going to assist towns like Grafton and Port Macquarie to deal with the cuts.”
“The two Nationals MPs – Lesley Williams and Chris Gulaptis – have been powerless to stop the cuts.”
Due to the tight deadline, Mr Gulaptis’s office was unable to respond specifically to the latest political argy bargy, however, a spokesperson said his position had not changed.
Previously, Mr Gulaptis said he had “sought an immediate explanation from Essential Energy” upon hearing of the job cuts, “and quite frankly their response was simply not good enough”.
Mr Gulaptis is on vacation overseas but remains in contact with his office via email.