Essential Energy puts NSW job cuts on hold

Essential Energy will not axe 180 jobs in regional NSW on instruction by the state government.
Essential Energy will not axe 180 jobs in regional NSW on instruction by the state government.

State-owned power supplier Essential Energy has put on hold its plan to axe at least 180 regional jobs following a directive from the NSW government.

Essential Energy on Tuesday said it was directed to halt its proposed job cuts and consider other options for savings after a meeting with ministers.

The state-owned entity will now look into how it can deliver efficiencies while continuing to lower network charges for customers as required by the regulator, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

It follows calls by Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro for Essential Energy to abandon the cuts.

"This fight had to be had," Mr Barilaro told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

"The people of regional NSW, the workers of Essential Energy deserve to know that we are fighting for their jobs.

"Regional NSW is the backbone of this state, and as we continue to suffer through the worst drought on record the last thing our communities need is job losses."

The Electrical Trades Union praised Mr Barilaro for fighting to keep the jobs, given communities are doing it tough with the drought and a slowing economy.

"News that one of the largest employers in regional NSW was planning to slash 182 jobs was a devastating blow," ETU assistant secretary Ben Lister said in a statement.

Mr Lister said the fight is far from over, claiming Essential Energy plans to slash another 500 jobs by 2024.

A spokeswoman for Mr Barilaro told AAP that any future jobs losses have also been halted.

But the state opposition attacked the coalition for "refusing to give a guarantee that it will step in and stop the 500 job cuts".

"The Berejiklian-Barilaro government has failed to guarantee all 500 jobs at Essential Energy," Labor leader Jodi McKay said in a statement.

"A temporary halt offers no reassurance to anybody. They promised no regional job cuts and must honour that promise."

Australian Associated Press