Essential Energy sacks workers

FIVE Essential Energy employees in the Clarence Valley are among 74 regional workers who will be forced out of "unfunded" positions by Friday, but there is one job Essential Energy is still hiring for.

On Tuesday afternoon, Essential Energy informed workers in "unfunded" jobs they had two options; one being to clear out their work space by close of business Friday.

It is believed five Clarence Valley employees received this message - four in Grafton and one in Maclean.

Their roles include electrical technician, electrical worker, disconnection/reconnection worker and auxiliary trades.

The two options provided to the Essential Energy workers in a letter to the affected employees are to attend an optional four work intensive career transition program, or cease work as of Monday, October 19, "to enable them to focus their efforts on making their career transition".

In addition to being on call with only four hours to make themselves available, employees were told to minimise any accrued annual and long service leave.

The job losses come in addition to 315 positions that have gone since June, and a further 123 workers who are currently going through the voluntary redundancy process.

The Electrical Trade Union and United Services Union described the announcement as appalling.

"Calling people into a meeting and telling them that they have just three days to clear out their belongings, that their workplace access will be disabled and that they are not required to attend work, is an appalling way to treat loyal workers," ETU secretary Steve Butler said.

Despite the losses, there is one position the state-owned electrical company is hiring for - a new chief executive officer.

Yesterday it was announced the CEO of Networks NSW, which comprises Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, Vince Graham would retire on December 31 after 47 years of service.

Until a permanent appointment is made, Essential Energy deputy chief executive officer Gary Humphreys will fill the role.

"In early September, Essential Energy provided details for consultation of the proposed first phase of job reductions (700 positions) and depot and office consolidations required to establish a long-term sustainable business operating model," Mr Humphreys said.

"Following a four-week consultation period with employees and unions and a comprehensive review of the feedback received, Essential Energy has today begun informing unions and employees of the positions that are no longer sustainable."

Mr Humphreys said the electrical provider was appealing elements of the determinations in the Australian Competition Tribunal, the results of which will determine plans for a second phase of workforce reductions.

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