Ausgrid management this afternoon revealed the locations of 553 job cuts, which will see more than one in every ten employees axed across Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
In a briefing to unions, Ausgrid confirmed that these cuts were in addition to 258 staff who had left voluntarily during the past two months, and that a further phase of 500 job cuts would take place later this year.
The Electrical Trade Union and United Services Union, which represent Ausgrid workers, said that the full scale of the cuts would mean that in just six months a quarter of the company’s workforce would be terminated.
The unions expressed particular concern that alternative options to maintain employment had not been taken, and that the company appeared to be pressing ahead with forced redundancies for more than half of the cuts announced today.
The company revealed that, in addition to 146 staff who have previously been redeployed, there would be the following local job cuts: 145 in the City of Sydney, 82 in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, 74 in Sydney’s West, 47 on the North Shore and Northern Beaches, 32 on the Central Coast, and 27 in Sydney’s South.
ETU organiser Mark Buttigieg said the union had written to government and opposition MPs in electorates impacted by the cuts, urging them to support a plan to save local jobs at the publicly-owned electricity network company.
“It is extremely disappointing that Ausgrid management have failed to accept a range of union proposals that would result in a substantial reduction in the number of job cuts,” Mr Buttigieg said.
“We have provided details of these proposals – including roster changes, job sharing, expansion of non-regulated work, and a mix and match voluntary redundancy program – to MPs and urged them to make urgent representations to Premier Mike Baird on behalf of local Ausgrid workers.
“We have also called on them to publicly oppose these job cuts, support the retention of highly skilled front-line power jobs, and raise the alternatives to job cuts in their party room meetings.”
Mr Buttigieg said the correspondence also outlined how TransGrid, which operates the high voltage transmission network, had implemented similar proposals, resulting in no jobs being lost despite the Australian Energy Regulator imposing a 25 per cent reduction in the company’s regulated revenue.
“Ausgrid management claim their hands are tied, that they need to cut these jobs, but it simply isn’t true,” he said.
“Transgrid has used very similar strategies to those suggested by the ETU to ensure not one job needs to be cut, despite having a similar reduction to their regulated revenue imposed by the Australian Energy Regulator.
“AER CEO Michelle Groves made the same point earlier this year, when she told a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry that: ‘We have not made decisions requiring particular staffing levels for these businesses’.”
USU energy manager Scott McNamara said affected communities needed to understand that these cuts were just the first phase, with the final number of job losses likely to be double.
“Ausgrid have confirmed today that they expect to announce another wave of 500 job cuts by the end of the year,” Mr McNamara said.
“In total, with jobs cuts announced today and staff that have left over the last two months, that will mean a quarter of the company’s workforce gone.
“Not only will this have devastating impacts on many local communities, it will result in a reduction to services for consumers, slower responses following emergencies and natural disasters, and poorer maintenance.”