Statement from ACTU President Ged Kearney:
Last night’s Insight report on SBS about the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley shows the immediate and vast consequences of industries being closed at short notice with no plan in place to protect workers, their families or their communities.
Workers and families in the Latrobe Valley region are now in crisis, in preparation for the full closure of the station that has sustained the area for 50 years.
The community has not been in denial about the future of brown coal and know, as well as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does, that ‘clean coal’ will not provide a sustainable future for the Valley.
We must do better, which is why the Australian Council of Trade Unions is campaigning for a national, independent Energy Transition Authority to be established to ensure that further closures in the Latrobe and elsewhere are planned and put workers first.
This Authority would have the power to oversee industry-wide employee pooling programs that would allow re-deployment of workers into equivalent roles in remaining coal-fired power stations.
It would also develop a labour adjustment package that ensures that all workers have access to job placement and support, retraining, financial support and travel and relocation assistance, well in advance of any closures, to give them choices and minimise the stress on them, their families and communities.
The Authority would work with relevant levels of government, agencies and investors to identify opportunities to create new industries and jobs in the area so that workers can transition from employment in coal fired power station to other, quality jobs.
It’s critical that unions, employers, state and federal governments build on current and ongoing negotiations to ensure that future closures are orderly, put the needs of workers first, and do not leave anyone behind.
We call on the Turnbull Government to back our call for the creation of a national Authority that delivers a Just Transition for workers and communities