Essential Energy receives green light to axe hundreds of jobs

Huge blow: United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly is slamming a decision to give Essential Energy approval to forcibly axe up to 600 jobs in its network. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Huge blow: United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly is slamming a decision to give Essential Energy approval to forcibly axe up to 600 jobs in its network. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

It’s not yet clear how many jobs in the Dubbo region will be axed after state-owned electricity distributor Essential Energy gained a green light to slash hundreds of positions.

The company has the power to forcibly cut at least 600 jobs after a key ruling by the Fair Work Commission on Wednesday.

The decision also allows for an unlimited number of highly-skilled power workers from rural and regional communities to be sacked from July 1, 2018, according to two unions.

Essential Energy declined to confirm how many jobs would go in the Dubbo region.

Members of its executive team will visit 60 locations this week “to provide a strategic and business update”. 

Newly-elected Orange MP and Shooters Fishers and Farmers party member Philip Donato reports Essential Energy employs about 205 people in his seat.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the United Services Union (USU), which together represent the majority of Essential Energy workers, have slammed the commission’s decision.

USU general secretary Graeme Kelly, in Dubbo on Thursday, said no jobs in the region should go.

“This decision is one of the biggest blows to employment in regional NSW that has ever occurred,” he said.

The USU and the ETU said they expected the forced redundancies to start within coming weeks.

Essential Energy boss John Cleland said the commission’s decision provided greater flexibility to go on reforming the business “in response to changing customer expectations and a rapidly-evolving energy sector”.

In the redundancy provisions the commission had “recognised that this brings our business into line with market realities”, he said.

“We have no plans to implement the provisions before Christmas, except for those employees previously identified as redeployees (around 30),” he said.

“Members of Essential Energy’s executive team are attending 60 locations across NSW this week to provide a strategic and business update, and will take the opportunity to discuss the workplace determination decision in more detail.”

The ETU has written to Deputy Premier John Barilaro seeking his immediate intervention to protect regional communities from the job cuts.

Mr Barilaro released a statement saying he was concerned about the potential impact on employees across regional NSW.

"I note that no final decision has been made by Essential Energy, however, should the company decide to proceed with changes to its workforce the NSW government will work employees and industry to ensure impacts on the workforce are managed in a sensitive and orderly way," he said.

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