Publicly-owned electricity network operator Essential Energy today informed 74 regional workers that they must clear out their personal belongings by Friday, and are no longer to attend work from Monday.
The jobs are among 262 from 32 regional locations that have been identified as “unfunded” and will be cut, including 84 from works depots, 63 from meter reading and vegetation management, and nine from management, corporate and support roles.
These job losses come in addition to 315 positions that have gone since June, and a further 123 workers who are currently going through the voluntary redundancy process.
The Electrical Trade Union, which represent Essential Energy workers, described today’s announcement as a callous and brutal way to treat loyal employees.
“Calling people into a meeting and telling them that they have just three days to clear out their belongings, that their workplace access will be disabled and that they are not required to attend work, is an appalling way to treat loyal workers,” ETU secretary Steve Butler said.
“Unions previously put a range of options to the company that would have saved many of these regional jobs, but all of these proposals have been either rejected by Essential Energy or ignored altogether.
“Essential Energy management have also stubbornly refused to re-enter the contestable works market, despite fellow NSW Government-owned network company TransGrid using that approach to prevent the need for any job cuts.
“We believe that today’s announcement by Essential Energy is not the end game.
“These workers can’t continue under these circumstances indefinitely, and Essential Energy has a moral responsibility — not only to these affected employees but to the broader community — to come clean and tell people what their real plans are.”
Steve Butler also accused National Party MPs of failing to take action to defend local jobs, saying the publicly-owned power company had only been able to press ahead with the savage cuts because of the Government’s silence.
“The silence of Government MPs has been deafening,” Mr Butler said.
“This company is 100 per cent owned by the public, there are tangible alternatives to cutting these jobs, yet the MPs elected to represent the communities impacted by these job losses have sat back and allowed their communities to be decimated.”
Mr Butler said the company was also pressing ahead with a plan to force employees whose jobs were listed as “unfunded” to use up parts of their personal leave entitlements, despite this matter being subject to Fair Work Commission proceedings.
“Essential Energy’s push to force workers to run down personal leave entitlements is disgraceful and is an example of how far management are prepared to go in these attacks.
“The company is also pursuing the use of forced redundancies, which is the subject of ongoing legal action.”