Frontline power workers responding to the major storm damage from the Illawarra to the Mid North Coast have reported that customer reconnections are taking longer than usual as a result of recent job cuts, sparking a call for National Party MPs to categorically rule out any future job losses from Essential Energy.
The Electrical Trades Union said members at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy had reported that emergency response times were slower than in the past — with more than 160,000 homes still without power — due to previous job cuts, including more than 600 from Essential Energy.
ETU assistant secretary Neville Betts called on National Party MP’s to rule out further electricity job cuts across rural and regional NSW, including up to 1,500 Essential Energy workers that are likely to be imminently announced by the NSW Government.
“What we have seen across storm affected areas is lengthy delays in responding to emergencies and slower customer reconnections, both of which appear to be the direct result of recent cuts to the Essential Energy workforce by more than 600 jobs,” Mr Betts said.
“During the past year, Essential Energy has slashed more than 600 jobs through voluntary redundancies, with no replacement staff being put on.
“This week we are seeing the impact of this decision through delays in customer reconnections following devastating storms.
“Next week the Australian Energy Regulator is due to hand down a ruling which the NSW Government is expected to use to announce job cuts across the electricity network, including 1,500 at Essential Energy alone.
“If NSW National Party MP’s fail to stand up against these plans it will result in a 37 per cent reduction in the size of the Essential Energy workforce, crippling their ability to respond to major emergencies.
“The simple fact is that cuts of this magnitude cannot be sustained.
“What we are seeing in areas like Dungog and the Hunter Valley, the Central Coast and parts of Sydney, is customers left without electricity for several days due to inadequate resources.
“The public can expect lengthy delays and more regular network failures in future if Mike Baird presses ahead with significant job cuts.
“National Party MPs must stand up for rural and regional electricity customers by stopping the plan to cut 1,500 jobs at Essential Energy.”