Workers at the Hazelwood power station and mine have been told the station will be fully closed down by the end of March 2017, with all staff promised their full entitlements, redundancy payouts and re-employment assistance.
After months of speculation, the news was confirmed by Engie’s Australian CEO, Alex Keisser, at a meeting at the power station in the Latrobe Valley this morning, with workers called to a large marquee that was erected overnight. About 250 workers (half of whom will be contractors) will be given the opportunity of more work after April next year in the process of demolishing the power station and rehabilitating the adjacent brown coal mine. That process will take six years, concluding in 2023. It is understood that each worker will be offered $4000 to go towards re-training for work in new industries. Both the federal and state governments have announced multimillion-dollar assistance packages for the Latrobe Valley and the workers affected.
The announcement was a stark departure from previous announcements to staff. In the past announcements to the almost 1000 staff and contractors were made via email, and meetings of smaller groups were held over a series of days.
ABC Gippsland is reporting that workers at the Loy Yang B power station, the newest of the four power stations in the Latrobe Valley, will be briefed at midday on a possible sell-off. Loy Yang B is also owned by French company Engie, and there has already been speculation that Asian buyers are being courted. It’s possible that Loy Yang B could be sold to Mitsui, the Japanese company that owns a 28% stake in Hazelwood — Engie owns the other 72%. It is understood that Mitsui has been somewhat surprised by the speed with which Engie has moved to close down Hazelwood.
As Hazelwood workers arrived to the meeting today that confirmed they would be losing their jobs by April next year, they saw a large table full of envelopes, bearing the name of each worker. Back in Melbourne, former Greens candidate for lord mayor tweeted her congratulations to Greens MP Ellen Sandell. “#Hazelwood trending this morning & closing next yr,” she wrote. “A step towards #climate safety. Congrats @ellensandell & all who have worked 4 this day.” We’re sure the workers in the Latrobe Valley appreciated the sympathy as they ponder their futures.