Mounting pressure renews hope for energy jobs
ESSENTIAL Energy has been forced to back down over its proposal to slash 182 jobs in regional NSW.
The energy company has been under fire from employees, the Electrical Trades Union and the NSW National Party, who have all slammed the cost-cutting measures which would have led to 11 jobs cut in Grafton.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he had been confident this outcome would eventually be reached and praised National Party leader John Barilaro and his party colleagues for fighting for regional jobs.
"Losing a job in the country is very different to losing a job in the city," he said.
"I along with my NSW Nationals colleagues have been calling on Essential Energy to reverse any plans to cut jobs and find alternative efficiencies, and today they have finally agreed to do this."
The National Party had been fighting hard within the coalition for Energy Minister Matt Kean to to force Essential Energy to find other ways to cut costs and yesterday the Minister issued a statement declaring he intended to do so.
"Following conversations between the NSW Government and Essential Energy regarding proposed job cuts to Essential Energy staff, today I am announcing my intention to issue a direction to Essential Energy to halt the proposed job cuts," he said.
An Essential Energy spokesman said that following the meeting with NSW government ministers the company had "been directed to place on hold the current workforce reshaping process and consider alternative options for savings".
"Essential Energy will provide information on alternate options for savings to the government when finalised and work with the government to implement its decisions," the spokesman said.
Despite Essential Energy indicating the cuts were "on hold", Mr Gulaptis said he was confident that following a review job losses would not eventuate.
"We have said halt the job cuts and find other savings measures," he said.
"I think they have been lazy. They need to review their business plan and have a good look at their operations and not take the low hanging fruit."
But ETU assistant secretary Ben Lister congratulated Mr Kean on the intervention, and praised the efforts of Deputy Premier John Barilaro and many of his Nationals colleagues who had been fighting to save the jobs.
"Our members could not be happier with the announcement that these job cuts have been halted, and Energy Minister Matt Kean and Deputy Premier John Barilaro deserve genuine praise for their efforts to find a solution that could keep these regional workers employed," Mr Lister said.
Mr Lister said while the announcement yesterday provided certainty for workers facing the first round of job cuts the union would still be pushing to protect the rest of the jobs which faced the axe.
"Our fight is far from over given Essential Energy still has plans on the table to slash another 500 jobs - one in every five regional workers - by 2024," he said.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said the Coalition Government had refused to give a guarantee that it would stop the 500 job cuts after Labor asked if the job cuts would "just be halted" or permanently abandoned.
"The Berejiklian-Barilaro Government has failed to guarantee all 500 jobs at Essential Energy - a temporary halt offers no reassurance to anybody. They promised no regional job cuts and must honour that promise."