Worker transfer scheme extended until August

Stephanie Charalambous

A scheme designed to transfer former Hazelwood workers to other Latrobe Valley power stations has been granted a short extension, however, there are currently few details around the move.

According to the state government, the Latrobe Valley Worker Transfer Scheme has been extended until August.

The two-year scheme’s aim was to employ 150 workers by the end of March this year, but it has fallen short of the target with 96 ex-Hazelwood workers employed at other local generators.

“Our focus is on creating jobs in the Latrobe Valley – and our record speaks for itself, with unemployment falling in the Latrobe-Gippsland region by 2.4 percentage points since we came to government ” Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes said.

The state government created the $20 million Worker Transfer Scheme in the wake of Hazelwood Power Station’s closure in March 2017 to offer early retirements to power station workers at other Latrobe Valley generators.

Ex-Hazelwood workers would then be offered jobs at those three stations with a financial incentive for the generators to employ them.

AGL’s Loy Yang A station has employed 49 ex-Hazelwood workers, while 18 have been employed at Alinta’s Loy Yang B.

EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn has employed 29 former Hazelwood workers.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the government needed to provide clarity on the scheme and its tenure, following questions he had posed to Jobs Minister Martin Pakula in Parliament yesterday.

“Is it operating until August this year, or will it run for another year as the minister answered in question time?,” Mr Northe said.

State government figures provided to Mr Northe show 219 workers from Hazelwood Power Station and Morwell sawmill Carter Holt Harvey were still looking for work.

The figures show more than 860 people affiliated with Hazelwood and the sawmill, which also closed in 2017, accessed a transition service set up by the state government to help with skills, training, information and personal support to take up new employment or transition to retirement.

Of those people, 306 are employed full-time, 35 part-time and 307 are employed in casual roles.

“There’s nearly essentially 560 former Hazelwood and Carter Holt Harvey employees who are either looking for work or employed on a part time or casual basis,” Mr Northe said.

“In anybody’s language that is a significant amount of former workers and contractors who have been impacted by the closure of these major employers.”

Further coverage in Monday’s Express.