Transfer scheme open to all

Positions created at local power stations as part of a landmark worker transfer scheme will be open to all workers across the region, but employers will receive a financial incentive to take on former Hazelwood workers.

Premier Daniel Andrews travelled to Morwell earlier this month to sign off on the agreement, which is expected to create at least 150 jobs for displaced workers by offering early retirement packages to older workers at other plants.

Loy Yang A owner AGL has reached a formal agreement, while Loy Yang B owner ENGIE has given in-principle support.

Elaborating on the structure of the agreement, Electrical Trades Union Gippsland organiser Peter Mooney said jobs created through the scheme would be open to workers beyond permanent Hazelwood employees

“It’s open to the general public because we don’t want to discriminate against a long-term casual that’s worked at that site and that’s where we’ve been coming from,” Mr Mooney said.

“(But) say they’re advertising for station operators, the people that are going to be the frontrunners are going to be the Hazelwood employees.”

When positions created through the scheme are filled by a Hazelwood worker the company will receive $75,000 from the $20 million the State Government has provided to fund the scheme, he said.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary Steve Dodd said jobs were expected to be opened up within continual presence contracting companies at the remaining power stations.

Workers who decide to accept early retirement packages will receive three weeks’ pay for every year of service, capped at 52 weeks.

Applications are being made to the Australian Taxation Office for a tax-free threshold of $150,000 to apply to the early retirement packages.

Mr Mooney said that would provide an incentive for older power station workers to seek early retirement.

“There’s a tax threshold that people get if they enter into this scheme, so that’s what makes it attractive,” he said.

“That’s $150,000 in your hand before you get taxed and that’s what will encourage people who have been there 30, 35, 40 years at those places (to take up the offer of early retirement).”