At least 30 current Essential Energy employees will be made redundant prior to Christmas.
The move follows a Fair Work Commission determination in the long-running dispute over new Enterprise Agreement negotiations between the energy provider and the unions.
The Workforce Determination’s redundancy provisions handed down on November 23 allow for involuntary redundancies up to a maximum of 600 to June 30, 2018.
However, no Enterprise Agreement employees will be made redundant before Christmas, except for those employees previously identified as redeployees.
Essential Energy confirmed there are currently 30 redeployees.
The Electrical Trades Union said it has written to newly-elected deputy premier and The Nationals leader John Barilaro about the outcome of the determination.
The union says it is seeking his urgent assistance and immediate intervention to protect regional communities after the Fair Work Commission on Wednesday approved Essential Energy’s plans to forcibly axe 600 jobs by July 2018, and up to 1000 more in 2019.
The union highlighted that the latest cuts were in addition to 1400 regional jobs that had already been cut following the NSW Liberal National government’s election in 2011, with Essential Energy issuing 789 voluntary redundancies and failing to replace hundred of other staff who have left or retired.
ETU deputy secretary Dave McKinley challenged Mr Barilaro and his National Party colleagues over the fact that they publicly claimed to have saved jobs at services at Essential Energy ahead of the 2015 election, while also accusing unions of running a ‘scare campaign’ about future job cuts.
“Given that Essential Energy remains 100 per cent owned and controlled by the NSW Government and given that the ETU’s claims of mass job losses was in fact true, we are now seeking your assistance and immediate intervention to protect regional communities from these cuts,” Mr McKinley wrote.
“National Party MP’s have in the past attended Essential Energy depots around the state telling staff their jobs were safe under the National Party.
“This false hope has contributed to our member’s distress and I believe it is now time for the NSW National Party to stand up and demonstrate that the NSW Nationals will in fact protect regional jobs at Essential Energy.”
Key changes in the Workplace Determination include:
- 2.5 per cent wage increase from July 1, 2016;
- Redundancy provisions changed;
- Consultation and Workplace Change provisions revised;
- Dispute and Grievance Resolution provisions changed;
- Outsourcing changes;
- Salary maintenance and Redeployment policies removed; and
- a change to minimum payment for recall to work provisions from four hours to two.
Essential Energy CEO John Cleland said the Workplace Determination provides the future employment conditions for our employees.
“It will provide Essential Energy with the ability to adjust its workforce to suit future business needs and continue with reforms to improve efficiencies and deliver long-term sustainability for customers and shareholders,” he said.
“Essential Energy won’t know exact reductions until we’ve worked through our ongoing reforms, including a significant investment in technology, which will determine workforce size and capabilities.”
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the ongoing reforms will largely determine workforce size and capabilities over time.
“The 600 forced redundancies is a maximum over the nominal period of the determination,” the local member said.
“The actual number, and specific roles and locations, are not known at this time but will be based on future business need.
Essential Energy won’t know exact reductions until we’ve worked through our ongoing reforms, including a significant investment in technology, which will determine workforce size and capabilities
“Essential Energy has a new Chief Executive Officer, John Cleland, who is leading the organisation during a period of significant change across the electricity industry.
“He and his management team are currently reforming Essential Energy to ensure it is capable of adapting to these changes and can continue to provide safe, reliable electricity distribution services across rural and regional NSW.”
Regional Manager with NSW Business Chamber Kellon Beard says any loss of jobs in the region is disappointing.
“Any loss of employees – any loss of jobs – either highly paid or otherwise is something that the NSW Business Chamber would not like to see,” he said.
“This is a growing region. Hopefully anyone made redundant will be able to source other employment in the region.
“Skills are transferrable; people are working in other areas now who are highly skilled and highly paid.
“The skills (of anyone made redundant) can be transferred to other industries.”
Mr Beard said nothing in the Fair Work Commission decision document indicatesd that job losses will go ahead.
“But Essential Energy, like any other business, has to structure its business to its needs,” he added.
He said the chamber hoped the energy provider will keep employing locals across the region.