Redundancy warning for 470

TASMANIA'S state-owned electricity companies Aurora and Transend have defended their handling of redundancies as part of a planned merger.

About 470 workers at the two businesses - which will be merged to form TasNetworks in July - have been sent letters informing them they face redundancy. TasNetworks chief executive Lance Balcombe yesterday said the advice was a requirement under the enterprise bargaining agreement and not all workers who received a letter would lose their jobs.

"The fact is that the majority of employees will be retained," Mr Balcombe said. "As with any merger process, there will be some duplication in some roles, and some redundancies will be offered, but suggestions that this will number as high as 400 is simply incorrect."

An Aurora spokesman said the news that some people would be made redundant should not have come as a surprise to employees.

"None of it should be a surprise. Within Aurora this has been communicated internally in a variety of mediums for a long time," the spokesman said.

About 500 field staff were told just before Christmas their jobs were safe, but the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union has called for another 45 workers who provide direct support to the field workers to be quarantined from the cuts.

"They have to be because if they're not there will be severe impacts on the company's ability to service the network and repair outages," CEPU state secretary Trevor Gauld said.

The merger is a key part of the state government's energy market reforms and is expected to save about $8 million.

The final structure of the new single entity won't be finalised until March, which will determine the number of positions to be cut across the two existing businesses.

Premier Lara Giddings yesterday said it was unfortunate that people were left uncertain about their future. "This will not lead to massive job losses but it is unfortunate that people are required to receive this information through a letter now, and it does create uncertainty which I am sorry about," Ms Giddings said.

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