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Union fears foreign workers taking wind farm jobs  

Credit:  ABC News | www.abc.net.au 1 August 2012 ~~

Unions claim foreign workers will be brought in to build the Musselroe wind farm in the state’s north-east, denying local workers job opportunities.

Turbines for the $400 million farm are expected to arrive from Europe next year.

Unions Tasmania’s Kevin Harkins says Hydro Tasmania is also planning to bring workers from overseas, despite committing to 200 local jobs.

“It beggars belief, it really does, when we’ve got the state in the way it is financially at the moment and we’re happy for a Tasmanian company, such as Hydro, to be handing jobs off to international workers rather than looking after our own people,” he said.

“To hand those opportunities off to people in other countries is just, just leaves me cold.”

Hydro Tasmania there will be a need to hire in some workers with specialist skills not available in Tasmania.

But CEO Roy Adair says the construction phase has been structured to benefit the local community.

“Where possible, Hydro Tasmania has maximised the use of Tasmanian suppliers, including selecting Launceston-based business Haywards Steel Fabrication and Construction as the preferred provider of towers,” he said.

“In some cases contractors on the project will need to hire specialist skills that are not available in Tasmania.

“However, over the life of the project, Tasmanian labour is anticipated to outnumber interstate labour 5 to 1.”

The Musselroe wind farm will have 56 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 168 megawatts.

Unions are urging the State Government to intervene and have sought a meeting with the Energy Minister Bryan Green.

But Mr Green has described Mr Harkins’ comments as ‘typically misleading’.

“It is only when contractors need specialist skills or equipment not available in Tasmania that labour from elsewhere will be sought,” he said.

“Only five or six visa workers with particular expertise will work on site and they have worked with Vesta in Australia for a number of years.”

Mr Green says that more than 80 per cent of the work at the site will be done by Tasmanians.

He has been given assurances by Hydro that Tasmanian workers will be given priority.

Source:  ABC News | www.abc.net.au 1 August 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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