Essential Energy redundancies: Unions waiting on call from government

JOBS GONE: Thirteen Essential Energy workers have taken a voluntary redundancy. Photo: FILE
JOBS GONE: Thirteen Essential Energy workers have taken a voluntary redundancy. Photo: FILE

THIRTEEN Essential Energy workers across the Central West have accepted a voluntary redundancy since the NSW Government's intervention into the supplier's planned job cuts.

The government owned energy supplier announced in July that 182 jobs would be cut by September 30, while a leaked document revealed a further 500 would go.

In August the cuts were put on hold following NSW Government intervention.

On Tuesday, however, Essential Energy confirmed that some redundancies had gone ahead in the Central West.

There were 13 in total, including in six in Bathurst, as well as in Dubbo (3), Orange (2), Mudgee (1) and Oberon (1).

"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," an Essential Energy spokeswoman said.

These employees expressed a clear preference to leave Essential Energy.

Essential Energy spokeswoman

"All of the employees receiving redundancies were involved in the consultation process undertaken earlier this year for the proposed workforce reduction."

The spokeswoman said these employees 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.

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

"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."

Electrical Trades Union secretary Justin Page said he was comfortable with the small number of workers who accepted a redundancy and that there cases involved "exceptional circumstances".

"What the union fought, and successfully stopped, was the use of forced redundancies at the company," he said.

What the union fought, and successfully stopped, was the use of forced redundancies at the company.

Electrical Trades Union secretary Justin Page

"We remain committed to protecting regional jobs and ensuring no Essential Energy workers are pressured to leave their employment against their will.

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

"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."

General secretary Graeme Kelly from the United Services Union (USU), which represents Essential Energy's white-collar employees, said the larger issue was formalising the direction for no further job cuts.

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

"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."

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This story Essential Energy's regional redundancies as unions wait for a call first appeared on Mudgee Guardian.