Hazelwood workers rally ahead of closure-NewsCO

February 26, 2017

Workers soon to be made jobless at Victoria’s Hazelwood power station have called for the impending closure to occur in stages.

Voiced their fears about their futures at Sunday’s “Rally for the Valley”, the workers spoke “passionately and emotionally” about how the coal power station’s closure would affect them and their families, local member Russell Northe said.

Up to 1000 staff members will lose their jobs when the French-owned company winds up on March 31.

“There’s a very strong message and a lot of anger and frustration that Daniel Andrews … they have a policy to close Hazelwood and yet they said they would do it gradually, and that’s simply not happening,” Mr Northe told reporters.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the looming closure showed the government was treating the Latrobe Valley “with contempt”.

“We should have kept three of those eight units open until 2025, that’s what I would have done as premier, rather than … walk away and let 700 jobs disappear,” he said.

Mr Guy said the government needed to work with other companies to ensure “no other coal-fired power stations close under their watch.

“If it means we have to reinvest in technology to reduce emissions, then the government’s got to a be part of those discussions, not just leave it up to the private sector.”

However, Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters about 150 redundant employees had already been given priority access to vacancies at other power stations, and said “exciting” announcements would soon be made about infrastructure and jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

He said the decision to close was made by French company Engie, which was also pulling out of the Netherlands and Scotland, but maintained the government’s job was to support the workers.

Mr Andrews said a Latrobe Valley fund had been established, which was helping re-employ retrenched workers.

“The other thing, of course, is I’ll have some exciting announcements to make about infrastructure and jobs, new business and new opportunities down in the valley in the weeks and months ahead.”

 

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