Hundreds petition Barilaro to save energy jobs
MORE than 700 people have petitioned NSW National Party leader John Barilaro to stand by his pre-state election promise to "lead the charge in protecting local electricity jobs".
Representatives from United Services Union started the petition last week after the first 36 of 1600 planned Essential Energy job cuts - not including voluntary redundancies - took effect in the form of termination letters sent three weeks before Christmas.
"If Essential Energy is allowed to slash these regional jobs it will cause huge problems for local communities across regional NSW," stated the petition.
"The Nationals and Liberal Parties are standing by doing nothing to save regional jobs, where the Government Owned electricity provider Essential Energy will set out to slash its workforce by some 1600 regional jobs by mid-2019.
"What can the National Party do: stand up to the Liberal party, and fight for regional NSW and save regional jobs and stop their own Government organisation from slashing regional jobs."
Union officials said many regional communities would be devastated by the loss of quality jobs, with workers and their families forced to move away to find alternate work.
"In the lead up to Christmas, we've already become aware of 36 workers at 23 regional locations being told they will no longer have a job in the new year," USU Energy Manager Ben Thompson said.
"The company has made clear that they will be joined by another 564 workers by June 2018, with up to 1,000 more forced job cuts taking place after that.
"You can't take 1600 specialist skilled jobs out of regional communities without leaving a huge social and economic impact as families move away, money leaves those towns, and skills are lost forever.
"Mr Barilaro made a clear statement, in writing, before the last election.
"Petitioners are simply asking him to turn that written promise into firm actions to save as many of these jobs as possible.
"Essential Energy is not only 100 per cent owned by the NSW Government, it is also the single largest employer in regional NSW.
"Mr Barilaro not only has the power to act, he has a moral obligation to the people of regional NSW."
The Northern Star will be seeking comment from Mr Barilaro today.
When National Party MP Chris Gulaptis heard about the termination letters last week he said he'd "done [his] bit" to save jobs by objecting to Australian Energy Regulator decisions on Essential Energy finances in 2015.