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2750 power jobs to go

Tuesday, 12th May, 2015

About 1400 jobs will be lost at Essential Energy as a result of the Australian Energy Regulator reining in the amount retailers can charge customers, but it’s unclear how hard our region will be hit.

Networks NSW, which is made up of Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, had feared that 2500 jobs would be lost, but yesterday revised that figure up to 2,750.

A spokesman for Essential Energy said it was too early to know how many jobs would be lost from Broken Hill, however 1,100 will go at Ausgrid and another 250 at Endeavour Energy.

Networks NSW CEO Vince Graham yesterday briefed electricity industry unions on the consequences flowing from the AER’s decision and began discussions on how to best address the workforce impact.

“Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy had proposed to the AER a progressive reduction of 2,200 jobs through to 2019 as part of our plans to continue to drive necessary efficiency reforms and keep downward pressure on electricity charges for customers,” Mr Graham said.

“Those proposed job reductions were in addition to the 3,700 administrative and frontline positions we have already safely removed, or will safely remove, between July 2012 and June 2015, as part of sweeping business reforms.

“Unfortunately, the AER rejected Networks NSW submissions for a transition period and in its final determination on 30 April imposed a retrospective cut, backdated to July 2014, of $1.622 billion or 25 per cent less operating expenditure across the three networks through to June 2019.”

The AER also declined to provide any funding for the redundancy costs the network businesses are legally required to pay under Fair Work Commission certified enterprise agreements.

“Last week I said we expected a minimum of 2,500 current jobs would not be funded by the AER’s determinations in 2015/16,” Mr Graham said.

“Now that we’ve absorbed the detail of the AER’s decisions, and because of the AER’s decisions, we expect 2,750 jobs, or one in four positions, will not be funded.

“These numbers do not include 652 voluntary redundancies and 50 external agency positions expected to be finalised with employees before the end of June this year (496 at Ausgrid, 115 at Endeavour Energy and 91 at Essential Energy).”

During discussions with industry unions, Mr Graham proposed a wage freeze for all management and award employees for two years with savings used to fund the employment of up to 509 graduating apprentices under fixed-term award contracts to give apprentices some continuity of employment when they do graduate. 

He also suggested a new skills retraining and redeployment program to help excess employees find new jobs elsewhere, and the development of a revised redundancy policy to be incorporated into new enterprise agreements to better align the future size of the workforce with the capped funding determined by the AER.

“We also know that aspects of our current enterprise agreements are simply not competitive. Unless we are able to constructively deal with this issue, more jobs will be at risk as we continue to pursue safe and effective ways to streamline our operations, including outsourcing opportunities.

“These are difficult circumstances for our people and they deserve our support and respect.

“No one’s interests are served by ignoring the challenges ahead.”

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