Essential Energy workers are facing forced redundancies within weeks, according to unions.
Essential Energy workers are facing forced redundancies within weeks, according to unions. Rob Wright

Nationals will not stop Essential Energy job cuts

NATIONALS Leader John Barilaro has ruled out blocking Essential Energy from shedding 600 jobs from regional New South Wales.

The Fair Work Commission last week granted permission for the state-owned electricity distributor to drastically reduce its workforce, a move Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis called unfair and "a step too far”.

But his party leader said the decision was a matter for Essential Energy and the FWC, not politicians.

"The NSW Government shares the objective of the independent Australian Energy Regulator in ensuring a safe and reliable supply of electricity, at the lowest sustainable cost for the state's households and businesses,” Mr Barilaro said.

"While the AER determination was good news for households and businesses, I am concerned about the impact on employees across regional NSW.

"I note that no final decision has been made by Essential Energy, however, should the company decide to proceed with changes to its workforce the NSW Government will work with employees and industry to ensure impacts on the workforce are managed in a sensitive and orderly way.”

Mr Barilaro said the Government offered fee-free training as part of its Retrenched Worker Assistance program to support affected workers.

"Retrenched workers can choose from up to 700 qualifications subsidised by the NSW Government to up skill, reskill and find a job and the RWA program also includes career information and linkages to employment service providers and employers seeking staff in skill shortage areas.”

Electrical Trades Union organiser Justin Page said there was still time for the Government to intervene.

"Now the company has received approval to forcibly make another 600 workers redundant, with up to 1000 more jobs going in 2019,” he said.

"This is a publicly-owned company that is meant to be run in the community's interest.

"Instead, Essential Energy management are overseeing huge regional job cuts while admitting that much of that work that is currently done in regional communities will be outsourced.”