Ergon to shed 500 jobs

QUEENSLAND regional electricty retailer Ergon has announced it will shed 500 jobs.

The job cuts are on top of recently announced losses at Energex and Stanwell Corporation and the Electrical Trade Union estimates 1100 jobs will go between now and June.

Ergon also announced the closure of its Virginia workshops.

The workshops service all sectors of the electricity industry, Ergon, Energex, Powerlink as well as other government-owned corporations and private sector companies.

ETU state secretary Peter Simpson said ministers were calling the shots, not the "independent" boards of these GOCs.

"(Premier Campbell) Newman cannot hide behind the respective boards of these government-owned corporations any longer, it is his ministers that are calling the shots, and not his so called independent boards" he said

"We will be in Fair Work Australia tomorrow with Energex Ltd where we will be seeking immediate meaningful consultation about the GOC's latest round of cuts and we will be gearing up to do the same with Stanwell and Ergon following these recent developments".

Mr Simpson warned the community would suffer from a cutback to skilled staff and mentioned the 2003-2004 summer storm season which left South-east Queensland homes without power for days because of a lack of resources.

"The cuts to front line staff such as linesmen, electricians, cable jointers and supervisory staff are bad enough, but coupled with the massive reduction in the apprentice intake and retention of many graduating apprentices we will see this vital, publicly-owned sector go back to the bad old days of 2004/05," he said.

"We have spent the past eight years negotiating better maintenance regimes (following the damning Sommerville Review that followed the 2004/05 storm season) and rebuilding the industry's workforce, through the attraction of tradespersons from other states and boosting apprentice intakes"

Asked in a Parlimentary Estimates Hearing on Wednesday morning about the job losses, Minister Assisting the Premier Glen Elmes directed the inquiry to Mr Newman.