News

Power jobs on the line

Unions claim resources like the Country Energy training centre in Grafton these apprentices are graduating from are under threat if the O’Farrell Government privatises electricity.
Unions claim resources like the Country Energy training centre in Grafton these apprentices are graduating from are under threat if the O’Farrell Government privatises electricity.

UNION officials are concerned more than 200 jobs in the Clarence electorate could be at risk if the O'Farrell government pushes ahead with privatisation of the electricity industry.

The local electrical network in the Clarence Valley is owned and serviced by Essential Energy and employs 221 people across four depots in Grafton, Casino, Woodburn and Maclean.

Electrical Trades Union (ETU) secretary Steve Butler said these jobs would be at increased risk if the privatisation goes ahead.

"Electrical jobs across the state are some of the most highly skilled jobs in regional communities," Mr Butler said.

"The 221 employees, their families and the local economy will be at risk if the O'Farrell government pushes ahead with electricity privatisation."

Mr Butler said past experience in Victoria has shown private owners of monopoly assets identify cost- cutting measurements which result in the closure of many regional depots when the privatisation of electrical networks occurs.

If Essential Energy is privatised, he said, employees at the Maclean (16); Woodburn (3) and Casino (26) depots could be at serious risk of losing their jobs.

"More job losses are the last thing communities need," Mr Butler said.

"The government is yet to decide on a final policy position in relation to the sale of poles and wires (electrical networks), but should it go ahead, there will be massive job losses in areas which cannot afford to lose them."

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and a representative of the premier's office dismissed claims.

"There are no plans to sell poles and wires," Mr Gulaptis said.

They have raised concerns for the future of local Essential Energy employees, now union officials have unveiled an example of what could happen in the Northern Rivers if the O'Farrell Government decides to privatise Australia's electricity industry.

Mr Butler said Victorian consumers suffered when the distribution networks, transition networks and retail sector were sold by the Kennett government in the mid-1990s.

"There were a number of influencing factors which occurred as a result of the sale," Mr Butler said.

"After the sale electricity prices continued to rise when consumers were told increases would not occur and the income generated from the sale was spent and no impact was made on the infra

structure backlog in Victoria.

"Regional communities suffered massive job losses, with some communities failing to recover and the remaining jobs in regional towns were casualised, outsourced and made insecure."

Mr Butler said the Clarence electorate would face similar prospects if the O'Farrell Government pushes ahead with plans to privatise the electrical industry.

"A number of smaller operating depots across regional Victoria were closed as a direct outcome of the sale. This would happen to the Essential Energy depots at Casino, Maclean and Woodburn if Essential Energy is privatised," Mr Butler said.

"In NSW, only the distribution network and the transmission network are owned by the public. They are owned and serviced by Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy and Ausgrid."

The unions are concerned if privatisation of the electrical industry occurs in NSW, communi- ties across the electorate of Clar

ence would suffer financially.

"Locals who are employed in the electrical industry spend their salaries in their local area. They support their local economy," Mr Butler said.

On July 13, Mr Butler contacted Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and asked for a meeting with him to discuss the final policy position surrounding poles and wires.

When The Daily Examiner spoke to the ETU yesterday, they had not received a response.

Illuminating facts and figures

The ETU has revealed through recent surveys 85% of the public remain opposed to the privatisation of the electricity industry. The last public poll was recorded in 2011.

Every 12 jobs which could be lost in Grafton would take $1 million away from the local economy.

Topics:  job loss privatisation



SUNDAY SAY: Where do the Bunya's grow?

The rough bark of the trunk of the Bunya. To get the cones naked young men climbed the Bunyas in the time-honoured way using vines for support.

Tree one of area's earliest plantings

Pacific Highway roadworks this week

Roadworks on the highway

Here's a list of all the spots where work will take place

SUNDAY SAY: The grass it can be greener

field of spring grass and forest

Short lawn not always the best

Local Partners

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Can rightful winner Midnight take out golden Gosling in Oscars?

Can Lion pip La La Land at the post in this year's Oscars? Sunny Pawar (pictured) helped bring a powerful film to the big screen.

WILL Aussie film Lion triumph or will popular La La Land prevail?

How to be spooky and sing like a man

Spooky Men's Chorale, looking a little less spooky, on Saturday morning at their masterclass.

A masterclass on how to be a spooky man (or woman).

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

Historic home 'Fairweather' up for action

Fairweather

Historic property owned for last 35 years up for sale

A piece of Clarence Valley heritage up for grabs

The historic house \"Ravensford\" located at 36 Villiers St in Grafton is currently on the market at McKimms Real Estate.

Take a look inside iconic home 'Ravenford'

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!