HOPE: Could a new coalition agreement save thousands of energy jobs?
HOPE: Could a new coalition agreement save thousands of energy jobs? Rob Wright

Baird's departure gives new hope to electricity workers

THE QUESTION on electricity workers' lips is whether there's a fighting chance now that a new Premier has been introduced.

Mike Baird's departure has given rise to a timely opportunity to save thousands of energy jobs in regional areas where 3200 employees will dwindle down to just 1600 by 2019, according to Electrical Trades Union.

The National Party is being urged by the union to demand that regional jobs at state government-owned Essential Energy be protected as part of a renegotiated coalition agreement with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

This comes soon after Nationals leader John Barilaro revealed the existing agreement between his party and the Liberals leaves "everything up for debate".

Steve Butler, Electrical Trades Union secretary, says more work needs to be done to stand up for and protect regional jobs.

"This plan will cause untold pain to regional communities 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.

"This is the perfect opportunity for Mr Barilaro to demonstrate the truth to his claims that every policy is up for debate and that the Nationals will no longer 'accept the crumbs from the Liberal party table'."

The opportunity for change is a hot topic as the coming weeks will see a cabinet reshuffle and a renewal of the coalition agreement between the Liberal and National parties.

"Since coming to power in 2011, the Nationals have overseen the loss of 1,400 regional jobs at Essential Energy," Mr Butler said.

"The alternative - continuing to support this ideological push to outsource jobs - would expose Mr Barilaro and his National Party colleagues as being unwilling or unable to adequately represent the interests of regional NSW in the parliament."



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