• Baird has the power to protect workers 

• Job cuts underway before Christmas 

• Lower service standards for regions expected 

More than 400 energy workers and supporters marched through Dubbo last weekend to demand the NSW Government protect regional jobs.

The protest was in response to 100% government-owned Essential Energy’s moves to halve its workforce by 2019 kicking off with 600 redundancies from now to 2018. 

USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly said 36 people in 23 locations across the state had already been told they no longer have a job including electrical technicians, powerline workers, operations managers, senior customer service staff, meter readers, engineers, administration workers and specialist tradespeople.

“How incredibly insensitive and out of touch can management at Essential Energy be if they think it’s acceptable behaviour to ring workers just weeks before Christmas to tell them — despite years of loyal service — they’ve no longer got a job,” Mr Kelly said.

“People are going to have to move to find other work. The prospect of a family having to sell their home, take their children out of school and move to another location to find work for mum and dad is diabolical.”

ETU’s Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley said a detailed analysis of annual reports shows many of the jobs could be saved if the government compromised on dividend payments.

“The NSW Government was paid over $27 million in dividends at the same time as the company was arguing they needed to slash 600 jobs. If the NSW Government returned these dividend payments hundreds of regional jobs could be saved but their addiction to boosting their bottom line from this publicly owned utility is preventing that from happening,” Mr McKinley said.

The devastating job losses are the latest in a string of hits to regional communities under the Baird Government's privatisation rampage.

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