Electricity jobs may go: union

UNIONS have slammed what they believe are plans to cut 7800 jobs across three power companies but the network boss dismissed the figures as fiction.

The Electrical Trades Union and the United Services Union seized on leaked documents which they said outlined details of an extensive program of redundancies, sackings and hiring freezes across Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy.

They believe the internal document proposes a  reduction in staff at the three electricity distributors from 13,542 to 5688 by June 2014.

Networks NSW chief executive officer Vince Graham said the claims were completely wrong.

Mr Graham said the claims were based on a discussion paper on future workforce planning across the electricity businesses which included diagrams without numbers or scale.

“The unions’ figures are based on applying a scale to an un-scaled diagram,” he said.

Mr Graham said the size of workforce across the three businesses was being managed via a recruitment freeze to non-frontline staff, natural attrition and voluntary redundancy.

United Services Union energy and utility branch manager Scott McNamara said the leaked document demonstrated a pathway or roadmap to reduce jobs in the industry.

“We believe it is time for the state government and Vince Graham to come clean in relation to their intentions,” he said.

Mr McNamara said the union had concerns about the future employment prospects of Essential Energy workers in Port Macquarie.

Essential Energy employs about 1000 people here.

Electrical Trades Union secretary Steve Butler said the information they had uncovered shows a calculated plan by the state government to slash staff numbers at the three publicly owned electricity companies by almost 60 per cent.

“It is impossible to sack more than half of the electricity sector workforce without having a negative impact on emergency response capabilities during severe storm events and bushfires, along with general reliability, network maintenance and public safety,” he said.

The state government previously announced it expected job reductions of about 780 staff across the three businesses over four years under electricity industry reforms.

These reforms are designed to reduce costs in the businesses to help keep electricity prices as close as possible to CPI over the next six years.

Essential Energy’s chief operating officer Gary Humphreys said Essential Energy had just recruited about 60 apprentices, as well as offered full-time employment to every graduating apprentice who satisfactorily met the requirements of their apprenticeship.

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