Premier accused of ‘lying’ over Ausgrid job figures
The slow storm recovery efforts have nothing to do with the sell-off of Ausgrid, the NSW government has been forced to insist, as Labor mounts an attack over job cuts from privatisation.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay on Friday produced a string of documents that all show staffing levels at the power company have reduced since the government sold half of Ausgrid in 2016.
It comes after Gladys Berejiklian was caught on TV on Wednesday claiming "there's actually more full-time staff today than there was five years" at Ausgrid.
A government spokesman was on Friday forced to explain the inaccurate description Ms Berejiklian gave of the company's staffing.
The Premier used two different reports as well as figures reporting the total number of staff available to work for Ausgrid, which is different to the number of people directly employed by the company.
"The figures referred to are Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Ausgrid figures from a December 2019 IPART report, which showed higher numbers than the Ausgrid annual report Full Time Equivalent Figures from 2015/16," the spokesman said.
"A representative of Ausgrid verified those figures before they were used."
"The IPART figure represent the total number of people available to Ausgrid, including those to be deployed when needed."
"Any suggestion the storm recovery efforts are due to the Ausgrid lease are completely false given the five-year job guarantee is still in place and does not expire until June 30, 2020."
A leaked internal document from Ausgrid shows the company's total number of staff at December 2019 was 3238, which is down from about 5400 in June 2014 according to annual report figures.
An update from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) - which released new figures this week - also show the number of staff has decreased from 4187 in March 2016 to 3570 full time equivalent employees for the latest quarter.
Energy Minister Matt Kean also provided the wrong figures in an interview with the ABC on Wednesday when he said Ausgrid has 4298 staff. The latest IPART figures were released hours later.
Ms McKay said she believed the fact about 40,000 people are still without power "is a direct result of the privatisation of Ausgrid".
"We believe the Premier has lied in relation to this … she lied about the privatisation when she went to the election and now she lied again," she said.
Labor's spokesman for energy Adam Searle claimed the Ausgrid document showed staffing numbers "breached" minimum guaranteed levels required under the privatisation deal.
Ausgrid is legally required to maintain at least 3570 full-time equivalent staff.
A company spokeswoman said Ausgrid was "fully compliant with the employment guarantee conditions, including appropriate staffing levels" under the Electricity Network Assets Act 2015.
"The number being referred to … is from a document Ausgrid provided to the ETU (Electrical Trades Union) that only reflects employees directly employed by Ausgrid and is not our FTE as it doesn't include compliant contractors," she said.
The spokeswoman said Ausgrid's full time equivalent employee number for the quarter ending 31 December 2019 was 3950 which is 380 FTEs above the required level.