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Unions reject Essential Energy job cuts proposal

Essential Energy's Grafton and Maclean crews have completed an upgrade to the network along Brooms Head Road boosting capacity and improving reliability in the area.
Essential Energy's Grafton and Maclean crews have completed an upgrade to the network along Brooms Head Road boosting capacity and improving reliability in the area.

ELECTRICITY provider Essential Energy wants to cut 800 jobs from regional New South Wales by 2018 under a draft workplace agreement.

The attempt, which also calls for unlimited job cuts after June 2018, predictably failed to inspire union delegates to sign on the dotted line.

The proposal comes after Essential Energy had announced in September there would be 60 job cuts on the North Coast, including 15 in Grafton and nine each in Lismore and Coffs Harbour.

That followed the Australian Energy Regulator's decision to cut the company's revenue by 30%.

Electrical Trades Union secretary Steve Butler said more than 1000 Essential Energy jobs had been slashed since 2013.

"Enterprise bargaining generally means that if you give something up you get something in return but it seems Essential Energy management think it's a one-way street," he said.

"Not only is Essential Energy wanting to sack people but they want to slash working conditions for remaining staff as well as implement a two-year wage freeze."

Other conditions included a ban on re-employing redundant workers within two years except for casual or temporary positions, and halving the amount workers are paid when called in for emergencies, from a minimum four hours' pay to two.

The need for outsourced contractors to be afforded the appropriate wages and conditions would also be removed, Mr Butler said.

"The NSW Government seems intent on slashing regional jobs at Essential Energy, which threatens service standards while maximising the profits they take from rural and regional customers," he said.

United Services Union energy manager Scott McNamara said the company needed to go back to the drawing board if it wanted union support.

"Workplace delegates ... refuse to stand by while jobs, services and standards are cut across regional NSW," he said.

The company last year said it needed to shed 2500 jobs to remain financially viable.

Topics:  electricity, essential energy, workplace agreement



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