The Australian Energy Regulator cut $324 million off energy providers' profit margins.
The Australian Energy Regulator cut $324 million off energy providers' profit margins. Kevin Farmer

More than 2500 NSW electricity jobs to be slashed

ELECTRICAL workers at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy have been told the New South Wales networks plan to slash a total of 2749 jobs from September this year.

Staff have been given one week to consult on the proposals, which include forced redundancies and reduced severance payouts to employees who "involuntarily" leave.

The bulk of the job losses will occur at regional electricity provider Essential Energy, which has proposed to cut 1395 positions.

The companies plan to cut jobs in two phases - the first beginning in September and the rest from October - in response to the Australian Energy Regulator's $324 million reduction of their annual profit margins.

Networks NSW chief Vince Graham said the AER ruling had left the three companies with 2750 unfunded jobs, costing $30 million a month.

Essential Energy plans to make 1395 staff redundant, with 700 in the first phase, Ausgrid has 1100 jobs on the chopping block - 600 in the first phase - and Endeavour Energy has proposed slashing 254 positions, starting with 120 in September.

TransGrid, which operates the high-voltage transmission lines across NSW, has said it will not be cutting any jobs.

Electrical Trade Union NSW branch secretary Steve Butler said the companies already had their "hit lists".

"These companies have said that the first staff to go will be those who have previously been redeployed, along with those whose job is being discontinued at a particular location," Mr Butler said.

"They have also revealed they already know who these employees are - so there's a hit list of staff who are to lose their jobs, yet employees have no idea if they are on it.

"For the remaining job cuts, the companies have said a 'merit-based selection' will be used, essentially requiring all employees to reapply for their existing jobs, with management cherry-picking who can stay and who will go."

Mr Butler said a 44-year-old linesman employed by Ausgrid for 25 years would currently be entitled to a voluntary redundancy package worth 87 weeks' pay.

He said if the employee chose to keep working under the proposed new scheme but was then made to take a forced redundancy, his payment would be hacked back to 16 weeks.

"This policy of not only imposing forced redundancies but paying much lower severance packages for them is particularly nasty," he said.