Power workers have welcomed an announcement by NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean that he will issue a directive to publicly-owned electricity distributor Essential Energy ordering a halt to plans to slash 182 regional jobs.
The Electrical Trades Union has been fighting the planned cuts, offering a range of alternate savings measures that don’t require the loss of skilled jobs in the bush or result in reduced services for consumers.
ETU assistant secretary Ben Lister congratulated Mr Kean on the intervention, but also praised the efforts of Deputy Premier John Barilaro and many of his Nationals colleagues who have 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.
“At a time when communities are doing it tough with drought and a slowing economy, news that one of the largest employers in regional NSW was planning to slash 182 jobs was a devastating blow.
“Since 2012, Essential Energy has nearly halved its workforce, with local communities feeling the pain as wages were removed from local economies and families were forced to move away looking for work.
“As a 100 per cent publicly-owned company, Essential Energy has an obligation to act in the best interests of the communities they serve, which means considering the broader impacts of cuts to jobs and services.
“The Energy Minister’s announcement today provides certainty for workers who had been facing this first round of job cuts, but 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.
“We will continue to work with the company, the NSW Government, and local MPs to find alternative options that can deliver cost savings and new revenue streams rather than seeing jobs lost.”
Media contacts: George Houssos 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313
ETU Media Releases
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For media enquiries please contact George Houssos on 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer on 0404 273 313
Peter Moss - Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Bruce Fan - Monday, August 19, 2019
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Bruce Fan - Thursday, August 08, 2019
Size of Essential Energy’s senior management team grows, pay rates soar, while jobs of front-line workers slashed
Peter Moss - Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Essential Energy has been asked to urgently explain why the ranks of senior managers have swelled and their paypackets soared at the same time as the front-line workers who maintain the electricity poles and wires across 95 per cent of NSW have faced massive job cuts.
Analysis of the NSW Government-owned company’s annual reports show that since 2015, the percentage of Essential Energy’s total wages bill devoted to paying senior managers has jumped from 7.3 to 11 per cent.
In the most recent annual report, the publicly-owned company disclosed that the number of managers receiving a remuneration package equal to, or exceeding, the highest pay rate available to senior executives in NSW public service had increased by 14 to 152 in a single year.
The surge in management spending comes against a backdrop of massive cuts to front-line workers across regional NSW, with the total workforce of Essential Energy nearly halving since 2012.
Last month, the company announced it was axing another 182 regional jobs, while an internal Essential Energy document has revealed that management plans to slash one in every five regional positions by 2024, resulting in another 500 workers losing their jobs.
The Electrical Trades Union has written to Essential Energy CEO John Cleland seeking an urgent explanation as to why senior manager numbers have continued to grow while so many front-line workers have lost their jobs.
“Essential Energy repeatedly claim their hands are tied, that these job cuts have been forced on them, yet the continued growth in the number of senior managers and how much they are being paid shows the pain of job cuts has been disproportionately felt by front-line workers,” ETU Secretary Justin Page said.
“When the percentage of total remuneration costs devoted to paying a small band of senior managers jumps from 7.3 to 11 per cent in just a few short years, it says there’s something serious out of whack.
“I can guarantee that the residents and businesses across 95 per cent of NSW who rely on Essential Energy to keep the lights on would rather see more of this money spent on maintaining front-line services, rather than lining the pockets of a growing band of senior managers.
“The ETU has written to Essential Energy seeking an urgent explanation as to how they justify such a substantial increase to the number and pay of senior managers over a period where approximately 2000 jobs have been lost.
“We have also asked how many of the recently announced job cuts will involve senior managers on these top pay rates.“Our members have been working hard to identify possible cost saving and alternatives to job cuts, so it is extremely disheartening to see those efforts squandered by the continued growth of a bloated senior management team.”
MEDIA RELEASE: ESSENTIAL ENERGY DOCUMENT REVEALS PLANS FOR DEEPER JOB CUTS, ONE-IN-FIVE REGIONAL WORKERS TO BE AXED
Peter Moss - Monday, August 05, 2019
An internal Essential Energy document (see table below) has revealed that the NSW Government-owned company that operates the electricity poles and wires across 95 per cent of NSW is planning to slash one in five regional positions by 2024.
The cuts will see an additional 500 workers lose their jobs on top of the 182 that Essential Energy last month announced would be cut from their workforce this year.
The Electrical Trades Union said the latest revelation highlighted the importance of urgent political action to develop a practical plan to save these jobs across regional NSW.
Since 2012, the workforce at Essential Energy has nearly halved as more than 2,000 jobs have been lost, drastically reducing the number of skilled front-line workers available to respond to blackouts, storm damage, or other major incidents.
ETU Secretary Justin Page said the union was alarmed by the revelation that the current round of job cuts were just the beginning, with one in five workers at risk of losing their jobs in the coming years.
“Essential Energy has already been cut to the bone, we’ve seen the workforce almost halved in recent years and dozens of depots shut, so to discover that hundreds more jobs are on the line is alarming,” Mr Page said.
“With one in every five workers facing the chop, there is no question that regional communities will be devastated and service delivery will be greatly impacted.
“For towns already struggling with drought, the loss of these skilled jobs — forcing many families to move away — will have devastating flow-on effects on the local economy.”The union has written to Essential Energy CEO John Cleland outlining a series of proposals that provide alternatives to job losses. These include:
- The insourcing of work currently contracted out — as other NSW electricity distributors have done — including pole replacements, service wire replacements, street lighting maintenance, vegetation management, yard maintenance, and information and communications technology (ICT) functions;
- Entry into the contestable metering market, given Essential Energy workers already possess the required skill sets; and
- Entry into the renewable energy market, given the significant amount of renewable projects being constructed across regional NSW.
The ETU has also provided a written briefing to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro outlining alternatives to job cuts.
“Our members have been extremely grateful for the supportive comments made by Mr Barilaro and many of his National Party colleagues, but those words need to be followed up with tangible actions if we’re going to save these jobs,” Mr Page said.
“We believe there are viable options available to Essential Energy that can avoid these cuts, but they will require a united effort from the company, workers, their unions, the broader community, and elected representatives if we are going to save these jobs.
“We also want to work with the NSW Government to find a longer-term solution to the current system where the Australian Energy Regulator imposes arbitrary and draconian budget cuts, with little regard for the impacts on workers or their local communities.”
Essential Energy employees or their family members who require crisis support are urged to contact Lifeline (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au) or beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).
Media contacts: George Houssos 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer 0404 273 313
Bruce Fan - Monday, August 05, 2019
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