Shoulder to shoulder with more than 300 redundant employees, Paul O’Brien went to work finding a new job yesterday.
The Australian Workers Union senior site delegate from Mulbring started at the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter on the potline 19 years ago.
“I’m in the same boat as everyone else – I just want to see what’s on offer,” he said.
“I might have to diversify a bit myself.”
Their employer Norsk Hydro and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations co-ordinated the careers expo, involving 69 stallholders looking to fill 6500 jobs across the Hunter and the nation.
“It’s a spectacular event,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I just hope it finds all our redundant employees jobs.”
The job losses are a result of Norsk Hydro’s announcement on May 23 it would curtail the remaining two potlines because of the high Australian dollar and low metal prices.
“I know a lot of the workers are fairly desperate to find work and many of them have families,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Like many of them I wish I was a little younger.”
Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon said it was a positive event in the darkest of circumstances.
“Hydro is a fantastic company that had to make a tough decision, but importantly they have met all their obligations to the employees,” he said.
Employment minister Kate Ellis said the job opportunities were real.
“I spend a lot of time talking about how lucky we are with this economy and the low unemployment rate – but importantly, we recognise that some industries and workers out there are doing it tough and we will work