Rug swept out on new workers

Craig Skinner is one of the newer members of the Hazelwood workforce who won’t receive a large redundancy payout.

He left a good job to become an operator at Hazelwood about three years ago, where he signed on the dotted line after assurances the power station would remain operational until at least 2025.

Mr Skinner said the workers had been left in the lurch by the premature closure and were not given enough time to plan their futures.

“One of the questions I asked on the interview was ‘what is the future of Hazelwood?’ and the guarantee was they’ve got a written contract saying they’ve got an agreement with the government and Engie they were going to be open until 2025,” Mr Skinner said.

“That’s what we were hanging our hats on, there was myself and 24 others.

“There’s now no redundancy for us. After two months we’ve got no job, no money and we’ve left jobs that we all now feel pretty silly about.”

Mr Skinner said workers were concerned for their futures, with many the sole bread-winner for their families.

“I’ve got four boys and I need to provide for them. I’ve still got a mortgage and bills to pay under the guarantee that I thought was 2025, but that’s all changed,” he said.

“With that pressure you’ve got to find a job, but with a 20 per cent unemployment rate in the Valley there’s a chance I might not be able to stay here.

“I may have to leave my family to support my family, and I’m not the only one.”

Mr Skinner said a staged closure would have given workers time to find alternate employment and the turnaround time was now unrealistic for most.

“We’d all prefer to be working here and a transition would be great, but the time frame they’ve given, five months, it’s just unrealistic for a Christmas period,” he said.

“You can’t do a course and get into something else in two months.

“To do it (closure) staged would have created time for myself to get another job, which I have no trouble doing, but I just don’t have three or four months to do that, and that’s the problem.”