Internal Essential Energy documents have confirmed that management at the government-owned energy company have been directed to encourage 600 staff to consider taking redundancies through a “mix and match” process, according to the Electrical Trades Union.
The process allows staff to voluntarily swap their current position for a redundancy.
Given Essential Energy’s service area covers more than 90 per cent of the state and the company employs more than 5000 people in regional areas the plan is likely to impact on countless local communities.
The ETU said that while NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher yesterday told Port Macquarie media that “nobody is losing their job” at Essential Energy, the documents tell another story.
“We have seen documentation briefing managers to ask their staff to mix and match,” ETU NSW secretary Steve Butler said.
“It is our understanding that Essential Energy has written to 600 employees asking them if they are interested in taking up the mix and match proposal.
“This is part of a planned approach by Essential Energy to reduce staff numbers, starting with a freeze on recruitment, voluntary redundancies for management and redundancies for award workers.
“Our concern is that the final part of this will be to force people out if they can’t shed enough jobs voluntarily, which means the positions of all employees are potentially at risk.”
Essential Energy’s secretive job cuts are a far cry from Energy Minister Chris Hartcher’s statements yesterday that anybody who has left the company had “done so as a result of their own free choice”.
“The Energy Minister needs to make some urgent inquiries into these job cuts, because what he said yesterday does not line up with what staff at Essential are being told,” Mr Butler said.
“The O’Farrell Government made a commitment before the last election that there would be no jobs lost at Essential Energy’s office in Port Macquarie, and we hope Mr Hartcher will take the appropriate actions to keep that promise to the community.
“Just as importantly, the Minister and Essential Energy have an obligation to tell the community what impact on vital electricity services staffing reductions are likely to have elsewhere in their service area.
“Experience tells us that when you cut front line jobs, it’s the customers who always suffer.”