Western Power to slash another 175 jobs
WA's state-owned electric utility Western Power is set to cut 175 jobs on top of more than 320 positions that were axed in June.
That means 20 per cent of Western Power's workforce has been made redundant or not replaced in the past 12 months, according to the Australian Services Union and Electrical Trades Union.
The company's chief executive Guy Chalkley linked the latest job cuts to restructuring that he said would align head office's business support to work it was doing in the field.
The WA government 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 - on Tuesday 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."