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Power companies seeking power to force redundancies

Ausgrid is looking to shed 1100 jobs.

Ausgrid is looking to shed 1100 jobs. Photo: Peter Rae

Power supply companies will face workers in the Fair Work Commission on Friday over a proposal that would allow the companies to sack workers instead of seeking voluntary redundancies.

The Electrical Trades Union will on Friday appear before the Fair Work Commission to argue against publicly owned power companies Ausgrid and Essential Energy introducing policies that would allow the forced redundancies of 2500 workers across NSW.

Fair Work Commission Vice President Adam Hatcher will hear arguments from Ausgrid and Essential Energy about why they should be allowed to introduce forced sackings which the unions say is in breach of current employment contracts.

ETU deputy secretary Neville Betts said the union will argue against the validity of the push by Ausgrid and Essential Energy to introduce forced sackings.


“We believe that plans to introduce involuntary redundancy by Ausgrid and Essential Energy is in breach of their existing workplace agreement.” Mr Betts said

“These companies, presumably supported by the NSW government, are using taxpayer’s money to hire expensive lawyers with the sole purpose of sacking thousands of frontline power workers from across the state.

“If Ausgrid and Essential Energy are successful in their bid to axe these highly skilled essential service jobs, hundreds of local communities will be devastated socially and economically in what can only be explained as avoidable job losses.”

A spokesman for Ausgrid said the independent national regulator of electricity networks had approved significant funding cuts to businesses in NSW and the ACT. This meant the business needed to change its voluntary redundancy arrangements because it only had funding for 3750 staff – 1100 fewer than its current workforce.

“This is good for consumers it means a $165 per annum average reduction in customer electricity bills,” the spokesman said.

“But it also means that at Ausgrid – the operational funding has been cut by $170 million a year and capital funding has been cut by $550 million over a five-year period.

“As a consequence this means that at Ausgrid there are 1100 jobs that are unfunded from 1 July 2015. We are borrowing $12.6 million per month to pay for these unfunded jobs. This is not sustainable.”

Leaked internal Ausgrid documents last week revealed the organisation’s plans to pare back its network and field operations before the Baird government’s partial sale of the state’s electricity assets to generate $20 billion to fund new infrastructure projects.

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