Nationals should fight for electricity jobs:Union

The Electrical Trades Union has urged the National Party to demand regional job protections as part of a renegotiated coalition agreement with the new Premier.

The union has demanded National Party MPs like Katrina Hodgkinson fight for local Essential Energy jobs.

Union secretary Steve Butler said Mike Baird’s departure presented a unique opportunity to save thousands of quality jobs in the bush.

The call follows Nationals leader and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s statement that the existing agreement between his party and the Liberals was a blank piece of paper, with everything up for debate.

Mr Butler said that while Mr Barilaro’s new found courage opposing forced council amalgamations was a welcome start, the National Party and local MPs like Katrina Hodgkinson must go further to stand up for the interests of regional communities by protecting regional jobs.

"In 2012 there were 29 employees working out of Young, nine employees working out of Boorowa and eight employees working from Harden. A total of 46 in 2012," he said.

"Those numbers have dropped with now only 20 in Young, five in Harden and four in Boorowa,  a new total in 2017 of 29 employees, that’s a reduction of 17 employees from 2012 till now.

"With further reductions detailed in the Fair Work Commission, it is possible that the numbers would be reduced by up to 50 percent.The likely scenario would be to close smaller depots and have work done from the bigger centres.

“This plan will cause untold pain to regional communities like Young as quality jobs are lost, specialist workers are forced to move away with their families, less money is spent with local businesses, and far fewer front-line workers are available to carry out maintenance and emergency response work."

But Member for Cootamundra Katrina Hodgkinson said she has listened to the union's concerns.

"I have met with the ETU to hear their concerns of Essential Energy job losses in regional areas and I am concerned about the impact on employees," she said.

"Should the company decide to proceed with changes to its workforce the NSW Government will work with employees and industry to ensure impacts on the workforce are managed in a sensitive and orderly way.

“A fee free re-training program is available to support affected workers.”