CFMEU members working for Essential Energy say response times to power outages are likely to be impacted by a company plan to slash more than 700 jobs across the state, with at least 45 earmarked to come from the north coast.
The company says it is responding to a ruling by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to cut costs, and that ultimately as many as 1400 workers could be made redundant statewide.
Network charges in NSW, which is the part of the power bill that Essential Energy is responsible for, are some of the highest in the country and the regulator has ordered them to be slashed.
The details of the cuts are yet to be announced but the union representing the workers says that members who have applied for voluntary redundancies (VR) in the lead-up to the announcement have been refused.
CFMEU spokesperson Greg Bray told ABC radio this morning ‘there are people who would like to take the VR. They’d be happy to go and then someone else could stay.
But Mr Bray says that because the voluntary redundancy scheme most benefits people who have been in the business the longest, ‘they’re not being looked at at the moment.’
A spokesperson for Essential Energy told Echonetdaily that the AER’s determination in April this year left the network provider ‘without funding for an estimated 1,395 roles, costing approximately $15 million per month’.
She added that Essential Energy is appealing elements of the determination.
‘In June 2015, Essential Energy announced its proposal to deliver workforce reductions in two phases. Phase 1 reductions of 700 roles will be announced in early September and are anticipated to be relatively proportionate across Essential Energy’s footprint,’ she said.
‘Phase 2 reductions of 695 roles will be announced once the outcome of the appeal is known,’ the spokesperson added.
‘As part of ongoing consultation with employees and the unions, we are providing details around this plan as they become available.
‘Essential Energy has always enabled employees to express an interest in voluntary redundancies, however, it is at the discretion of the business as to whether applications are granted and the role deemed surplus to business needs.
‘Eligibility for voluntary redundancy is based on operational and regional requirements and the skills, capability and experience we need to retain now and into the future,’ the Essential Energy spokesperson said.
The spokesperson did not, however, respond to Echonetdaily’s request to provide details on what proportion of the north coast workforce were to lose their jobs.