The AMWU will take a prime role in working with the Victorian Government to ensure hundreds of Latrobe Valley members get the best chance of new work and proper redundancy following the shutdown of Hazelwood power station.
The union has developed an extensive package of programs in conjunction with the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council (GTLC), other unions, and the Victorian Government, to deliver practical assistance, redeployment opportunities and support for our members throughout this difficult transition.
The union will press Hazelwood operator Engie to give union members first access to up to 200 jobs which will be needed over coming years for the decommissioning and demolition of the station with its mine, then remediation of the site into a lake.
We will also lead the way alongside the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council guiding the Industry Assistance Program, with the Worker Transition Centre to help job seekers, and the Back to Work program expansion for local businesses to employ workers in the Latrobe Valley.
AMWU State Secretary Steve Dargavel said that the Latrobe Valley community faced an enormous challenge with the disgracefully rushed shutdown by French company Engie from next March.
But after talks with unions the Victorian Labor Government has fully committed itself to rescuing the region, with a $266 million package.
The AMWU is also backing the proposal for Engie to fund an industry-wide redundancy and redeployment scheme across the Valley, taking in its other plant at Loy Yang B and all other power generation sites including Yallourn.
“It would offer voluntary redundancy packages to older workers in other Valley power facilities so as to open up vacancies for younger, experienced Hazelwood workers to fill,” Mr Dargavel said.
At least 400 AMWU members are employed at Hazelwood in maintenance roles, split between those directly employed by Engie and those employed by maintenance contractors. This expands by hundreds of workers during refurbishment periods for the Latrobe Valley power facilities.
AMWU organiser and Gippsland Trades and Labour Council Secretary Steve Dodd said it was disturbing that the media wrongly reported that the Hazelwood redundancy payout would be on average over $300,000, when the stark reality was that hundreds of workers both in-house and contractors would receive only basic entitlements.
“For hundreds of contractors, the transition package is crucial to their ability to find new work and be supported through this difficult period,” said Mr Dodd.
The union welcomed the Premier’s decision to take responsibility for the success of this transition project. “Many Premiers and Governments before this have not delivered tangible outcomes or success for the workers in the Latrobe Valley. The area has not yet even recovered from the job losses after the privatisation of the State Electricity Commission in the mid-1990s. But it’s promising to see these first steps taken by the Andrews Government,” said Mr Dargavel.
AMWU maintenance members at Hazelwood, working for contractor Fluor (L-R): John Dowling, Frank Manduci, John Davidson, Paul Nicholas, Tom Whitelaw, Alan Postlethwaite.