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CFMEU blocking Hazelwood jobs: AGL

AAP logoAAP 17/11/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

Hazelwood coalmine workers about to lose their jobs cannot be offered new ones at the same skill level at a nearby coal power station because of the CFMEU, AGL Energy says.

About 450 direct employees and 300 contractors will be out of work once French majority owner Engie closes Hazelwood in the Latrobe Valley in 2017.

AGL wants to hire experienced workers for its Loy Yang plant and mine in lateral arrangements but is being blocked by the CFMEU, AGL's Anthony Chappel told a Senate hearing into retiring coal-fired power stations.

"We have proposed lateral entry be in our existing enterprise agreements to accommodate lateral entry for workers displaced for example from closed plants," he said at the hearing on Thursday.

"But unfortunately the CFMEU don't agree with that approach, (they) won't agree with it."

AGL runs the Loy Yang A coalmine and power station about 20km away from Hazelwood.

A company spokesman told AAP it wants to hire about 50 Hazelwood workers in lateral positions so it can benefit from a pool of experienced operators and keep jobs in the region.

Under the current enterprise agreement, the experienced workers would have to start in entry level or junior positions.

"A Hazelwood power station operator with, for example, 20 years' experience, would be required to start at the lowest level and work their way up through all levels to the equivalent of the role they held at Hazelwood," the spokesman said.

"This would be like a tradesman being forced to undertake another apprenticeship."

AGL Loy Yang and the CFMEU have been negotiating a new pay deal for almost 500 days and the union has "opposed any change to the status quo in relation to lateral entry opportunities", the spokesman told AAP.

The CFMEU has been contacted for comment.

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