NSW electricity sell-off will cost Albury jobs: union

THE privatisation of electricity in NSW will hurt Albury jobs, according to the Electrical Trades Union.

The union met with Essential Energy staff and representatives from other businesses on Tuesday night amid concerns over the plans.

The state will sell 49 per cent of electricity poles and wires if re-elected next year, which Electrical Trades Union NSW secretary Steve Butler said would impact workers at businesses like Essential Energy.

“The immediate impact would be job losses and we’ve already seen that through apprentice numbers,” he said.

“Apprentice numbers at Essential Energy have dropped from 129 in 2010 to 30 this year.

“We believe there will be further reductions next year and our communities will suffer as a result.

“When you lose jobs and training opportunities people migrate out of regional NSW.

“I can’t find anyone who thinks the sale is a good thing for Albury.”

The union has been meeting with electricians across the state and has placed posters opposing the changes on electricity poles across Albury.

“Local politicians are selling regional NSW down the river,” he said.

“They need to stand up for their communities and if they’re not prepared to stand up, we need someone who is prepared to stand up.”

But member for Albury Greg Aplin labelled the claims “fairytales”.

“Mr Butler has waltzed into town, under orders, to make claims about a connection between Essential Energy recruiting apprentices and the proposed leasing of poles and wires in NSW,” he said.

“He has failed to tell the public Essential Energy is excluded from the lease proposal under the NSW government rebuilding NSW package.

“If he or the Electrical Trades Union had bothered to contact Essential Energy on the matter they would have been advised the decisions about size and make-up of field workforces are based solely on the needs of customers and the network that serves them.”

An Essential Energy spokeswoman said apprentice numbers were dependent on the Australian Energy Regulator’s consideration of the business’s five-year funding proposal.

“Apprentice recruitment will be delayed for about six months until these plans are determined,” she said.