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Crean enlisted to help Latrobe Valley

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

The Victorian government has enlisted former federal Labor minister Simon Crean to help broker an agreement between unions representing Latrobe Valley workers and power companies.

With the Hazelwood mine and power station to close in early 2017, Mr Crean's role is to find common ground between the parties and he's already started meeting union and industry representatives.

About 450 direct employees and 300 contractors will be out of work once French majority owner Engie closes Hazelwood by the end of March.

"This is about exploring all practical options to help find jobs and new opportunities for Hazelwood workers," Victoria's Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan said in a statement.

The relationships between the CFMEU and AGL Energy is tense due to a protracted pay dispute, with the union on Friday hitting back at claims it's blocking Hazelwood workers from being redeployed at the nearby Loy Yang A power station.

AGL Energy on Thursday told a Senate committee it had been wanting to hire experienced workers from Engie's Hazelwood to work at Loy Yang A at the same pay and skill level but the EBA means those workers need to start from junior positions.

Mining and Energy Victorian district secretary Geoff Dyke said the union only heard about the plan during the hearing in Melbourne.

"AGL should be ashamed of themselves. They are clearly trying to take advantage of the situation in Hazelwood in their latest stunt to discredit the Loy Yang enterprise agreement - an agreement they have already applied to terminate," he said.

Mr Dyke said there was nothing in the current pay deal stopping redeployment from another power station but if AGL needed "comfort words" in the agreement the union would negotiate.

He said workers may take industrial action in December.

An AGL spokeswoman said the company raised the issue of lateral employment with the CFMEU in July.

The company also met with Mr Crean on Thursday over potential involvement in a regional scheme.

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