Support for power grid workers has come from an unexpected quarter, with Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith slamming Essential Energy’s plans to slash almost 50 jobs from the north coast.
Ms Smith said the loss of 47 full-time equivalent positions in the region would have ‘a devastating impact on the community.’
‘A strong workforce is critical to providing a reliable, safe and increasingly clean power supply to the people on the north coast,’ Ms Smith said.
Transition to renewables
‘By slashing 47 jobs, Essential Energy is robbing the north coast of the expertise needed to undertake the necessary transition to clean energy technologies.
‘Cutting employee numbers will ultimately lead to higher household bills, poorer service and a longer transition to renewables on the north coast.
‘Essential Energy executives are sacrificing frontline jobs and community safety to boost their bottom line,’ Ms Smith said.
Greens NSW MP and energy spokesperson Dr John Kaye accused Essential Energy management of ‘covering up for their own incompetence and lack of imagination.’
He said that Essential employees in regional NSW were ‘being forced to pay for the failure of a few highly paid executives to grow the business and plan for the future.’
‘The union has shown extraordinary flexibility in responding to the squeeze on the entire industry,’ Dr Kaye said.
He added that the regional high voltage transmission agency, TransGrid, had ‘managed the cut in revenue without job losses by working with the Electrical Trades Union and its employees.’
‘Essential’s management is stuck in the past. The executives have rejected moving into so-called “unregulated” activities in the competitive market for services and works.
Dr Kaye said the redundancies would ‘leave regional NSW unable to meet the challenge of getting the greatest economic and environmental return from new energy technologies.’
‘Battery storage is a game changer but lower power bills and higher reliability will be denied to people in regional NSW unless there is a supplier with a skilled and experienced workforce.
‘The decisions being made today about the size and capability of the power industry workforce will have real implications for the next 30 years.
‘The Baird government is focused on leasing TransGrid and the urban distribution networks to multinational corporations and has largely lost interest in Essential and its employees.
‘NSW really needs a government that is looking to the future and working with power industry employees to reshape the grid.
‘Instead it is setting up the entire industry for a future of even more job cuts, declining reliability and increasing power bills,’ Dr Kaye said.