Manufacturing union joins call for just transition

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), along with allied unions, released a joint report on November 8, outlining how workers previously employed by the fossil fuel industries can be redeployed into renewable energy.

With offshore wind testing occurring off the coast of Victoria, the report noted the need to support the renewable energy sector to deliver positive outcomes for communities impacted by the closure of fossil-fuel powered industries.

The recommendations of the report are that the federal government create an energy transition authority, develop an Offshore Renewables Act, develop masterplans for renewable energy that include supply chains, procurement and infrastructure, and ensure that when renewable energy is financed, local content and workforces are prioritised.

With the Star of the South project to use 250 turbines between 10 to 25 kms off the coast of Gippsland, the report outlines the economic and social potential of manufacturing those turbines locally. If this was combined with training opportunities for local workforces, the value of these projects to the local industry could be maximised.

According to secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Luke Hilakari, addressing climate change could also revitalise local industries.

“This transition must be managed in a way that ensures workers and their communities are put front and centre, with clear plans to support workers into new, quality jobs in the manufacturing, construction, and maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure, when companies make decisions to close businesses,” said Hilakari.

AMWU Victorian secretary, Tony Mavromatis, highlighted the impact this would have on manufacturing.

“A renewables sector that relies on bringing in equipment from overseas provides limited economic benefits, but if governments put in place requirements for the use of local content we would see a massive boost in local manufacturing jobs,” said Mavromatis.

“By not only fostering the development of offshore wind farms, but actively ensuring these towers and turbines are produced locally, the environmental benefits would be matched by economic and social outcomes.”