Essential Energy is set to cut 165 jobs, according to the Electrical Trades Union.
The union said Essential Energy had already told workers privately that Bathurst, Lismore, Taree, Port Macquarie and Grafton were among the depots hardest hit.
The ETU’s Secretary Justin Page said the first redundancies were expected to happen next Wednesday, less than a week after the plan was announced.
“The way Essential has gone about it is utterly disgusting to be honest.
“The way they’ve notified people in the short timeframe that this will unfold, with no consultation, is very disturbing to us.”
The announcement appears to contradict the NSW government’s assurance that no regional public service jobs would be lost.
Employees ‘fully supported’
In a statement, Essential Energy did not confirm the number of jobs, but said staff will be “fully supported” throughout the process.
The company said it was committed to lowering power prices by “achieving operational efficiencies” while maintaining safety and reliability.
“The safety of our employees and communities we service will always be a fundamental priority as we undertake these changes to our business.”
The company said that over the next three to five years, Essential Energy would progress a series of programs and initiatives to deliver a better service at lower cost.
“As we drive efficiencies in our business, we will also be ensuring that we have the right size workforce across our service territory,” the statement said.
“These changes will allow us to continue to deliver the high quality of service our customers want at a lower cost.”
MPs frustrated by job cut announcement
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro called on the company to immediately stop any process that would result in regional job cuts.
The State Government has been spruiking a restructure of its public service, on the condition that it would not impact regional jobs.
“Essential Energy is a critical part of our regional workforce, and we have gone to great lengths to ensure we protect those jobs,” Mr Barilaro said.
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said she was extremely disappointed to hear jobs will go from regional NSW.
“We were told by the Premier and she was very public about her statements as was the Deputy Premier that there would be no job losses in the regional communities as a result of restructuring of departments and so on,” she said.
She does not know how many of the 165 jobs lost would be in her electorate but expected it to be a significant number.
“I certainly understand that employees in Port Macquarie today in Essential Energy will be obviously nervous about their future.”
“I’m certainly really feeling for them today and obviously what I want to do is make sure this process comes to a halt.”
Regional communities hit hard
Mr Page said the job cuts would have a major impact on regional communities.
“Less reliability and once power is out in a storm event or a power outage it’s going to take longer and longer for people to have their power restored.
“We’ve already see increases in the time it takes to restore power and removing another 165 isn’t going to help that at all,” said Mr Page.
The union is also concerned the proposed cuts would force workers to compete with their colleagues to determine who keeps their jobs.
The company has 100 regional depots across the state.