ETU Media Releases

ETU Media Releases

For media enquiries please contact George Houssos on 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer on 0404 273 313

Secret Government Plans to Slash Electricity Staff

Angela Lordan - Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Electrical Trades Union has uncovered secret plans by the O’Farrell Government to cut more than half of the 13,500 jobs from the electricity sector through redundancies and forced sackings. 

The document compiled by Networks NSW show that the O’Farrell Government is planning to slash staff numbers by almost 60% through a systematic program including a staff freeze, redundancies and forced sackings.

The union is warning local communities that these deep and savage cuts will have a disastrous impact on frontline services particularly in periods of natural disaster such as bushfires, storms and floods.

“The information that we have uncovered shows a calculated plan by the O’Farrell Government to slash staff numbers at the publicly owned electricity companies by more than half.” said ETU Secretary Steve Butler.

“Essential Energy currently employs 548 staff at more than twenty locations across northern and north west NSW.

“Residents across northern NSW continue to endure natural disasters including bushfires, storms and flooding but it is the highly skilled and dedicated workers from Essential Energy that make sure the community have power restored as quickly as possible in times of need.

“If the O’Farrell Government goes ahead with their plans to cut more than half the workforce, this could result in the loss of hundreds of highly skilled jobs from the North West, Tamworth and Northern Tableland regions potentially leaving the community stranded and without power during future emergencies.” Mr Butler said.

“You cannot sack more than half of the electricity sector workforce without having a negative impact on emergency response capabilities, reliability, network maintenance and public safety” Butler said.

“Ask the residents of Coonabarabran if they think cutting staff at an essential service like the electricity companies is a good idea considering what those communities have just had to go through.” said Mr Butler 

Documents obtained by the ETU also reveal a planned timetable that will see the cuts implemented well before the next election.

“This timetable demonstrates that the Government knows these cuts will be unpopular and they want them implemented well before the next election in the hope that the community forgets.

“If you were cynical like me, you might think these cuts were being made in preparation for full power privatisation which will result not only in further cuts but also depot closures.” said Mr Butler.

“Towns across Northern NSW like Tamworth, Armidale, Moree, Glen Innes and Bourke are all doing it tough when it comes to employment opportunities and this is why we cannot allow hundreds of local jobs to be ripped out of these regional areas.” Mr Butler finished.

Electricity Network Should Cope With Demand & Heat

- Saturday, January 05, 2013

While the NSW electricity network is expected to cope with the increased demand and extreme heat conditions today the ETU has said that any future reduction in network investment and network reliability standards would mean future extreme heat days could be very different.

ETU Secretary, Steve Butler said that some politicians are pushing to reduce network reliability and network investment that would put undue pressure on the electricity network in future extreme heat occurrences.

“In recent months we have listened to politicians from all major parties say that there should be a reduction in network investment and reliability standards but today is the perfect example why this should not happen.” said Mr Butler.

“NSW residents and business owners expect electricity to be available even on the hottest days of the year and any push to reduce network reliability would be bad for the business community and bad for NSW residents trying to stay cool.

“I challenge those politicians that have recently said we should reduce reliability standards to come out today and repeat those claims. These political leaders need to tell us how they will reduce reliability and what impact that will have on businesses and residents on a day like today.” Mr Butler said.

“Blackouts are inconvenient at the best of times and are sometimes unavoidable but governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to guarantee the supply of electricity all year round including in extreme weather events such as today.

“I expect that the NSW electricity network will stand up to the demands placed on it today, this will not be without incident but a well maintained and well managed network, which we have in NSW can deliver on a day like this.” said Mr Butler.

“I believe that the government is best positioned to deliver a reliable electricity supply through a well maintained and well managed network and that is why the ETU in NSW is opposed to any form of electricity privatisation that would put future reliability and public safety at risk.

“We have seen in the past that the privately owned electricity networks in Victoria and South Australia continually fail to meet community expectations during extreme weather events.

“The Bushfire Royal Commission found that five of the eleven 2009 Victorian bushfires were caused by lack of safety inspections and network investment, while in South Australia the electricity network struggles to cope during extreme heat resulting in blackouts.” Mr Butler said

“We cannot let this happen in NSW and that is why the ETU will continue to highlight the benefits of public ownership of the NSW electricity assets.”