Energy reforms could see hundreds of jobs go

LEAKED letters believed to have been sent to Northern Rivers electricity depots have revealed hundreds more local jobs could be cut under drastic energy reforms set to be rolled out in the next 12 months.

The Electrical Trades Union claims the letters, calling for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancies, form stage two of the NSW Government's plan to cut more than 60% of energy jobs as part of "Networks NSW staff reduction plan".

A copy of a letter sent to an Ausgrid contract worker from head office in Sydney says the company is working on a new operating model which will "raise the potential for surplus positions" consisted with the "NSW Government's announcement" in March last year.

It goes on to say the company is seeking expressions of interest from employees who may wish to be considered for voluntary redundancy but makes it clear the letter is "not an offer and does not commit the company or the employee to progress to a redundancy".

ETU Secretary Steve Butler believes a similar letter has or will be sent out by Essential Energy, which employs more than 550 staff across the region.

Mr Butler said the Northern Rivers was already dealing with high unemployment rates and the loss of major employers like the Grafton Jail, where 108 positions were cut last year.

He was also concerned the potential cuts would have a disastrous impact on frontline services and emergency response during floods and storms.

Last year, 780 jobs which the government described as "middle management - surplus positions" were cut in metropolitan areas as head offices merged.

Depot and field positions were spared in the first wave of cuts but the union understands the recent red letters are on their way to regional mailboxes.

Essential Energy employs 335 staff across Lismore, Ballina and Tweed and 221 staff across Grafton, Casino, Woodburn and Maclean.

Examples employee numbers at local depots

  • Tweed Heads: 79
  • Murwillumbah: 27
  • Ewingsdale: 33
  • Ballina: 86
  • Lismore: 87
  • Casino: 26
  • Kyogle: 13
  • Bonalbo: 4
  • Clarence Valley: 100+

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