Essential Energy employees in Port Macquarie will be among those to lose their jobs after an announcement by the company it plans to slash its workforce across regional New South Wales.
More than 165 jobs are expected to go with staff at Essential Energy offices in Port Macquarie, Taree, Bathurst, Grafton and Lismore to be the hardest hit.
Since 2015, more than 2,000 jobs have been cut at Essential Energy, nearly halving the workforce and drastically reducing the skilled front-line workers.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) says the company has blamed the Australian Energy Regulator for the cuts, saying the money spent on building, upgrading and replacing infrastructure will be cut by 11.5 per cent during the next five years, while general operating expenses need to be reduced by 3.9 per cent.
The Port Macquarie Essential Energy office is currently undergoing a major upgrade.
ETU secretary Justin Page has slammed the announcement, saying the use of forced redundancies along with a "hunger games" style competition between workers to hold onto their jobs was causing unnecessary hardship.
Workers have been given until July 10 to respond before forced redundancies are implemented, Mr Page said.
"We are examining every legal and industrial avenue available to stop them," Mr Page said.
"Since 2015, when the National Party claimed they'd 'saved' Essential Energy from privatisation, we've seen the workforce absolutely gutted, with nearly half the skilled workers responsible for keeping the lights on across regional NSW shown the door.
"Deputy Premier John Barilaro was big on talk at the Nationals conference last week about being willing to stand up to his Liberal colleagues on issues that matter to regional NSW, well here's his chance to stick up for the bush, demand these jobs be protected, and stop the ongoing gutting of the regional electricity network."
More to come.