BLEAK FUTURE: ETU members protest against the planned mothballing of Swanbank E gas power station owned by Stanwell Corporation.
BLEAK FUTURE: ETU members protest against the planned mothballing of Swanbank E gas power station owned by Stanwell Corporation. Contributed

Job choices on offer ... quit or sit

THIRTY-THREE workers at Swanbank E Power Station will be forced to take redundancies because no other suitable work is being made available to them, Electrical Trades Union (ETU) organiser Jason Young says.

Ipswich West MP Sean Choat told the QT there would be "no forced redundancies" when the gas-fired Stanwell facility closes because the workers' enterprise agreement forbade it.

Mr Choat said the 33 workers would have an opportunity to work in Stanwell's head office in Brisbane, or remain at the plant in their fields of expertise.

But Mr Young said the argument over "forced redundancies" was one of semantics.

"There are no forced redundancies, but there is nothing for the workers to go to," he said.

"Of the 40 employees, there will be seven people kept on to keep the plant in cold storage.

"The other employees don't want to move to Brisbane and they were told clearly by Stanwell management that there were no alternatives.

"Swanbank head office has been going through their own redundancies, so there are no positions for them.

"They have two choices. They can take a voluntary redundancy or sit in a room and not be productive. These tradespeople don't want to do that. They want to be productive.

"So they are left with no alternative but take a redundancy."

Mr Choat went to Swanbank to talk to the workers about their concerns last week and said he hoped the government-owned Stanwell would keep them on in another capacity within their field of expertise.

"I recognise that this site is unique, so I would like to see the company look at all avenues to ensure we still have access to this technology," he said.

"They might find themselves in a different situation where they are viable again.

"I'd like to make sure there are opportunities for those workers to continue doing what they do.

"Stanwell have told me there will be opportunities because Swanbank E will need to be kept operational. There will be some staff kept on for that and others going into facilities in Brisbane."

Mr Young pointed out that the Swanbank workers were tradespeople such as electricians and mechanical fitters and that office work in Brisbane was not an option.

"Photocopying and data entry is not what these people do," he said.

The Swanbank E gas-fired power station will be decommissioned in October and two coal-fired stations at Tarong in Kingaroy will be reactivated.

Mr Young said: "There are no jobs being created at Tarong in the ramp-up of the two units there over the next two years."

He said the ETU had not given up on reversing the government's decision to close Swanbank E.

"We are still applying pressure wherever possible to have this decision reversed … but it is looking more and more bleak."



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