Resources staff should not be blamed for rejecting a major drop in pay that comes with transitioning to work in the energy sector, an industry advocate has said.
Federal opposition environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said it is unreasonable to expect workers to swap their well paid coal mine jobs for a poorly paid position in renewable energy.
“If I said, hands up who is willing to take an $80,000 a year pay cut right now, I do not reckon many people would put their hand up,” Butler told the Chifley Research Centre’s Towards 2022 Conference in Sydney according to the Australian Associated Press. “There is genuine concern that good, secure, well-paid jobs could potentially be replaced with insecure less well-paid jobs … you can see why some people would be saying ‘well that’s easy for you to say, mate.'”
Two thirds pay cut
Federal Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson revealed “once respected” coal miners in her electorate earn between $100,000 and $120,000 a year. However, solar panel installers take home about a third of that amount.
“They don’t want to screw solar panels on roofs for $40,000 a year,” she told the conference. “They don’t and I don’t blame them.”
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Swanson suggested coal workers “hate” being told to transition away from “dirty” coal to renewable energy, adding it was unclear whether the same job security could be offered.
“It’s not an equivalence to say there’ll be just as many jobs because what people really want is certainty, security, they want to know the living standards they enjoy will be enjoyed by their children,” she said. “So what used to become a worthwhile well-paid job has somehow become dirty and I resent people who refer to coal as dirty … we have built a nation off the back of coal. It deserves our respect.”