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Essential Energy confirms 17 Port Macquarie employees to take voluntary redundancy as union waits for meeting

Essential cuts: Essential Energy says 17 employees in Port Macquarie have taken voluntary redundancy.
Essential cuts: Essential Energy says 17 employees in Port Macquarie have taken voluntary redundancy.

Seventeen Essential Energy employees in Port Macquarie have accepted voluntary redundancy since the NSW government intervened in the proposed workforce reduction of 182 roles in August.

The Nationals ramped up opposition to the job cuts which would have impacted a number of centres across the state, most notably in Port Macquarie.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said he would intervene telling Parliament he would issue Essential Energy with a formal directive to not proceed with the planned redundancies.

As yet, only a draft directive has been issued. And that is concerning the respective unions involved.

Essential Energy has confirmed that some redundancies have gone ahead.

"Redundancies are being provided to some employees following detailed consultation with them on their preference to leave the business, and in line with both our legal obligations and representations made to employees," a spokesperson said.

"All of the employees receiving redundancies were involved in the consultation process undertaken earlier this year for the proposed workforce reduction of 182 roles and expressed a clear preference to leave Essential Energy before the Minister for Energy and Environment announced his intention to issue a Direction to prevent any workforce reductions.

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"Seventeen of these employees are based in Port Macquarie.

"All other employees impacted by the consultation process are returning to work.

"Government stakeholders have been made aware, and relevant Unions fully support redundancy provision to employees in these circumstances.

"The NSW government continues work to finalise a formal Direction to Essential Energy about its proposed workforce reductions.

We are committed to implementing the Direction, when it is finalised," the spokesperson said.

Electrical Trades Union secretary Justin Page said his union was "comfortable" with the voluntary redundancies.

The Electrical Trades Union has requested a meeting with Energy Minister Matt Kean to discuss the progress of the formal direction to Essential Energy.

Justin Page

"The Electrical Trades Union has requested a meeting with Energy Minister Matt Kean to discuss the progress of the formal direction to Essential Energy," he said.

"Essential Energy has not yet held any discussions with the union regarding the cost saving initiatives we put forward.

"These options are viable alternatives to job cuts that would benefit workers, the company, and electricity consumers.

"We are comfortable that the small number of workers who have accepted voluntary redundancies have left on their own accord and were not forcibly induced to leave the company."

United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly OAM said his organisation will hold the government to their commitment.

"There have been a small number of job losses involving people who had volunteered to leave the company," he said.

"These voluntary redundancies were already agreed to prior to Essential Energy being directed to cease their planned forced job cuts.

"The larger issue is the ongoing effort to formalise the direction for no further job cuts at Essential Energy.

"We understand that limitations in the budget process allow for yearly directions to be provided, which would need to be renewed each year.

It would leave the prospect of forced job cuts hanging over all Essential Energy workers.

Graeme Kelly

"This is not an adequate outcome as it would fail to provide certainty to our members or the community.

"It would leave the prospect of forced job cuts hanging over all Essential Energy workers," he said.

"We remain committed to holding the NSW government to their commitment that a formal, binding, lasting direction will be issued to Essential Energy putting an end once and for all to these unsustainable job cuts."

A Department of Primary Industry and Environment spokesperson said the government was working toward the formal directive.

"On August 20 2019, the NSW government announced that it would be directing Essential Energy to halt the proposed workforce reductions," the spokesperson said.

"The NSW government is working with Essential Energy to ensure the direction delivers the best outcomes for all its regional staff."

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