PM gives jobless installers $41m, but Opposition says employers miss out

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PM gives jobless installers $41m, but Opposition says employers miss out

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the government will spend $41.2 million on further assistance for those workers displaced by the government’s Home Insulation Program, which was scrapped earlier this month because of the death of four installers, and because random audits revealed many houses fitted with the foil insulation under the scheme were ‘live’.

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the government will spend $41.2 million on further assistance for those workers displaced by the government’s Home Insulation Program, which was scrapped earlier this month because of the death of four installers, and because random audits revealed many houses fitted with the foil insulation under the scheme were ‘live’.
 
The government has committed to three objectives through the Insulation Worker Adjustment package:
  • to help displaced workers retain their job until the new Renewable Energy Bonus program begins on June 1; or
  • to assist them to find alternative jobs; or
  • to provide them with a relevant training position where appropriate employment opportunities are not available.
 
As previously reported on WorkplaceInfo, the government announced that $10 million will be spent on retraining 2000 displaced installers for new Structural Adjustment Places under the government’s Productivity Places Program, while displaced installers (who register with a Job Services Australia provider) were offered with immediate access to intensive support under the government’s Compact for Retrenched Workers. It is believed that the $10 million spent on the 2000 Structural Adjustment Places is included in the $41.2 million figure announced for the Insulation Worker Adjustment package.
 
Retention and alternate employment strategies
 
Rudd said that the package includes:
  • ‘A $10 million Insulation Workers Adjustment Fund to help workers and firms through the transition period. It will be allocated on the recommendation of a team of existing local employment coordinators and new dedicated Insulation Employment Coordinators. The Fund will support firms to retain their workforces in work or training activities or to support workers directly.
  • $1.5 million for up to 25 dedicated Insulation Employment Coordinators, funded from the Jobs Fund. These new positions will assist displaced insulation workers to find alternative jobs with other employers and other industries. This assistance will complement and draw on existing support provided through local employment coordinators and the resources of the Job Services Australia network. The insulation employment coordinators will have access to the $10m Insulation Workers Adjustment Fund to assist workers transitioning to alternative jobs or training.
  • $5 million for 1000 Structural Adjustment Places to help retrain insulation workers in alternative industries announced today [24 February].
  • $24.7 million for 6000 training places already announced to assist insulation workers — 2000 each from the Apprenticeship Access places; the Language Literacy and Numeracy Program; and the Structural Adjustment Places.’
 
In relation to the 7000 training places, insulation workers have been advised that they can access these opportunities by contacting their local Job Services Australia provider.
 
In addition, Job Services Australia providers will help retrenched workers identify local training opportunities through TAFE or other Registered Training Organisations based on a comprehensive individual skills assessment. The training under this package will be at no cost to the insulation worker.
 
Retrenched workers should contact 13 28 50 for more information.
 
‘Great Peter, but you forgot the employers’: Billson
 
Meanwhile, the Opposition has said the $41.2 million package for retrenched workers is an important initial step, but that the government, especially Minister Peter Garrett, has ignored the impact of its ‘bungled’ insulation scheme on reputable insulation employers, who have been left with little work and no forward orders.
 
Shadow Minister for Small business, Bruce Billson, said that during the ‘deep freeze’ insulation employers will experience in the months leading up to the government’s revamped scheme, they will be facing economic hardship, big investment losses, on-going expenses with no income and possible receivership.
 
‘What Mr Garrett does not seem to understand is factory and vehicle leases don’t pause; stock does not pay for itself; business start-up and accreditation costs are not recovered; insurances and operating expenses do not simply cease because the Minister decides to deny people the opportunity to earn the income he promised would be available,’ Billson said.
 
‘The government talks about how it might keep experienced and accredited insulation installers in the industry so they might return after the deep freeze on the home insulation program is over but this does nothing to assist small businesses survive in the industry and to recognise the economic harm Peter Garrett has caused.’
 
‘Peter Garrett and the Rudd Labor Government must act to address the harm and hardship they have caused to viable and reputable insulation small businesses and recognise that hanging them out to dry will mean many will not survive to pick up the pieces of the home insulation industry once the government-imposed deep freeze thaws.’
 
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