MEMBER for Goulburn Pru Goward denies the state government is set to wield the axe to thousands of electrical sector jobs – among them the careers of locals.
The Electrical Trades Union this week lashed out at the O’Farrell Government after it claimed to have uncovered secret documents detailing how more than half of the 13,500 jobs statewide would be slashed.
There are 77 employees on Essential Energy’s books in Goulburn alone.
The Union says papers compiled by Network NSW show some 60 per cent of jobs were in the firing line with staff freezes, redundancies and sackings imminent.
“The information that we have uncovered shows a calculated plan by the O’Farrell Government to slash staff numbers at the publicly owned electricity companies by more than half,” ETU secretary Steve Butler said.
“If the O’Farrell Government goes ahead with their plans to cut more than half the workforce, this could result in the loss of hundreds of highly skilled jobs from places like the Riverina and Western NSW while potentially leaving the community stranded and without power during future emergencies.
“You only have to ask the residents of South Coast, Wagga Wagga and Yass if they think cutting staff from our essential services is a good idea considering what those communities have just had to go through with bushfires.”
Mr Butler believes the alleged mass culling is in preparation for privatisation.
Ms Goward, however, denies such widespread job losses are on the cards. Her office says 780 jobs, not thousands, would be cut over the next four years and that no frontline staff positions were in danger.
“The government has consistently stated that frontline positions will not be affected by the network restructure,” a spokeswoman for Ms Goward said.
“[We] announced in March last year that we expected job reductions of about 780 staff across the three businesses over four years as a part of its reforms to the industry.
“These reforms are designed to reduce costs in the businesses to help keep network electricity prices as close as possible to CPI over the next six years.”
The fact that some 400 apprentices have started work in the sector statewide is proof the Union’s claims are wrong, the spokeswoman added.
Essential Energy CEO Gary Humphries agrees.
“The union’s figures are based on applying a scale to an un-scaled diagram.
It’s complete fiction,” he said.
“Electricity reforms underway are designed to reduce costs in the business to contain network price increases to CPI over the next six years. We will achieve this while continuing to respect our customers and employees throughout the process.”
Mr Humphries said the ETU claims were insulting to the company’s employees.