UP TO 18 Essential Energy apprentices are facing uncertainty and are stuck in limbo with the company providing no commitment for their future.
Essential Energy depots in Wagga and Griffith have six apprentices each, while Junee, Temora and Leeton have two apprentices at their depots.
The government-owned business is waiting for a final report from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) which will shape how much maintenance and construction is completed on the network.
Depending on the outcome, it could see the loss of 1503 jobs statewide, the “inability to place apprentices”, as well as delays in repairing faults and clearing vegetation.
“At the start of the year, Essential Energy offered full-time or temporary six month positions to approximately 80 apprentices across the business, including one each at Wagga, Junee and Leeton,” an Essential Energy spokeswoman said.
“However, no further apprentice commitments can be made until we receive the AER’s final determination at the end of this month.”
However, Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) assistant secretary Neville Betts said Essential Energy was using the AER’s determination as an excuse.
“They’ve stripped hundreds of jobs in the last few years,” Mr Betts said.
He said no apprenticeships had been offered this year and short term contracts were being used to get past the recent state election and the announcement of the AER determination.
Mr Betts said job losses would mean any loss in power could take much longer to restore.
“These people are running the company into the ground, they’re attacking the fabric of rural communities.”
Mr Betts said if young people could not find work they would leave and take their families creating a domino effect hitting schools and businesses in rural areas.
NSW Electrical Trade Union (ETU) secretary Steve Butler said the wholesale reduction of staff would lead to serious problems in the future.
“When the company gets rid of all the young people there will be a huge gap in 10 years,” he said.
Mr Butler said the ETU had made a submission to the AER to prevent a future skill shortage created by a lack of training.
The final AER determination is expected to be released on April 30.
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