10/08/2016 - 13:02

Western Power to cut 175 jobs

10/08/2016 - 13:02

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Western Australia's state-owned electric utility Western Power says it will cut 175 jobs on top of more than 320 positions that were axed in June.

Western Power to cut 175 jobs

Western Australia's state-owned electric utility Western Power says it will cut 175 jobs on top of more than 320 positions that were axed in June.

Western Power chief executive Guy Chalkley has linked the latest job cuts to restructuring he says will align head office business support processes to work it's doing in the field.

Western Power is continuing a transformation program aimed at improving customer affordability and long-term business sustainability,” he said.

“If we achieve this, we will make Western Power one of the top electricity businesses nationally, whilst still delivering safe and affordable electricity to customers.

“Earlier in the year we made changes to reflect the downturn in the amount of work we are doing in the field.

“We are now seeking to align our head office business support areas and processes to the work we are doing in the field.”

Mr Chalkley said while the company was committed to consulting with its employees before any decisions were reached, 175 roles would be affected at this stage.

“We will be offering all employees voluntary separation, to empower them to make a decision that’s right for their individual circumstances,” he said.

The is investigating selling the poles and wires utility to hopefully raise $12 billion from the sale to pay down state debt that has hit record levels and is forecast to rise to $39 billion in three years.

New Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls confirmed his support for the sale of Western Power and other public assets - excluding Fremantle Port - yesterday on the condition that 100 per cent of the proceeds go to funding new infrastructure projects in WA.

The two unions representing Western Power workers oppose the proposed sale and said in a joint statement that privatising it would come at a great cost to regional communities.

ETU WA secretary Les McLaughlan said regional communities had the most to lose from privatisation as Western Power currently funds the subsidy of power outside of Perth and any cuts to maintenance budgets to reduce costs would increase the risk of bushfire.

"Once Western Power is sold, it is highly unlikely that the new private owner will continue to support regional communities in this way, and regional power bills will go up," he said.

ASU WA secretary Wayne Wood said that selling Western Power will see revenue currently used for health and education services used on a spending spree around the state.

"Brendon Grylls has shown in the past that he has little regard for the impact of his policies on the state budget. This will cost the state budget hundreds of millions in lost revenue each year," he said.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said the significant job cuts showed the company was being softened up for sale.

"Mike Nahan - who is not just the treasurer, but the energy minister - he's now preparing Western Power for sale regardless of what the premier is saying," he said.

"So no doubt this is part of the parcel of perhaps creating a leaner Western Power in anticipation of a future sale.

"This is clearly Mr Nahan's position, but I don't know what the government position is."

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