REGIONAL communities will be millions of dollars worse off from the latest round of job cuts at Essential Energy, a Western NSW business leader says.
A document obtained by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) shows the government-owned energy supplier will axe one-in-five staff by 2024.
The loss of these 500 workers is in addition to the 182 that were announced last month who will be axed by September 30.
An Essential Energy spokeswoman would not confirm which locations would be impacted by the job losses, but said it was committed to electricity affordability and it had delivered a 40 per cent "real reduction in network charges" since 2014.
"We have committed to delivering further reductions over the next five years," she said.
"We have specifically briefed employees and the unions on projections for the shape and size of our workforce over the past three years."
We have committed to delivering further reductions over the next five years.- Essential Energy spokeswoman
Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards said there were a number of reasons why the loss of so many employees will be devastating for the region.
"In terms of business owners we're already paying a lot more on electricity than people in metropolitan areas," he said.
"Also, in the summer storm season there were lots of outages and the time it took to reinstate power was lengthily ... with job cuts that's only going to get worse."
Mr Edwards said the loss of the wages paid to 500 staff in regional NSW would have a significant impact.
"That's many, many millions of dollars that's not going to hit local communities," he said.
Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright said these job losses will add to this city's woes as it continues to struggle with through the drought.
"Businesses that haven't been impacted by the drought are starting feel a loss and this is just another pain point," he said.
"The Essential Energy announcements on its own is quite staggering, but add that to the 130 jobs loss at Cobar [Endeavour Mine], all of these things are contributing to crisis in some centres."
While Orange Business Chamber president Ash Brown said the city was strong enough to cope with Essential Energy's job cuts.
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"It's disappointing but it seems to be that our town is also quite resilient to any employers putting people off," he said.
"It's a lot of jobs over the region over five years but I believe Orange is a strong enough economy to be able to cope.
"It's a bit like when Electrolux closed down, everyone was bracing themselves but it didn't have as bit an impact as expected."
Orange MP Phil Donato accused Essential Energy of "putting profits before services".
"The government should do more and encouraging them [Essential Energy] to do more and look at savings elsewhere," he said.
"There's already record high electricity prices and this will lead to a further decline in services."
What the union says...
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) said the latest revelation highlighted the importance of urgent political action to develop a practical plan to save these jobs across regional NSW.
The ETU has also provided a written briefing to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro outlining alternatives to job cuts.
"Our members have been extremely grateful for the supportive comments made by Mr Barilaro and many of his National Party colleagues, but those words need to be followed up with tangible actions if we're going to save these jobs," Mr Page said.
"We believe there are viable options available to Essential Energy that can avoid these cuts, but they will require a united effort from the company, workers, their unions, the broader community, and elected representatives if we are going to save these jobs.
"We also want to work with the NSW Government to find a longer-term solution to the current system where the Australian Energy Regulator imposes arbitrary and draconian budget cuts, with little regard for the impacts on workers or their local communities."
- Essential Energy employees or their family members who require crisis support are urged to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
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