The Australian Workers’ Union has welcomed a decision to put the joint venture running the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project on notice, after the union raised the alarm over low morale, poor reporting standards and safety hazards.
Snowy Hydro 2.0 is a major pumped-hydro expansion of the existing Snowy Scheme. It is forecast to increase the Scheme’s generation capacity by 2,000 megawatts (MW) – enough to run 200 million LED globes simultaneously.
The project will link two existing Scheme dams, Tantangara and Talbingo, through underground tunnels and an underground power station with pumping capabilities.
Future Generation is a joint venture created specifically to build the project. It comprises Italy’s Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo), Australian-based Clough and US-based Lane Construction.
The AWU states that it has been warning government-owned Snowy 2.0 that the joint venture has been mismanaging safety and conditions at the site. Complaints that have been raised by workers on-site, including poor fatigue management and unsafe practices, have been ignored by the joint venture.
After pressure from the union, Snowy 2.0 has now expressed serious concerns about the safety issues occurring under Future Generation’s watch and ordered the JV to develop a comprehensive safety improvement plan.
AWU NSW Branch Secretary, Tony Callinan, said after months of sounding the alarm it is encouraging that Snowy 2.0 is finally responding to workers’ concerns.
“The morale I’ve seen on this project is just about the worst I’ve seen on any civil construction project. Workers who are raising serious concerns are just being ignored and fobbed off. The JV says it’s the labour hire company’s problem, and the labour hire company says the opposite.”
Mr Callinan said Snowy 2.0 has finally recognised the Future Generation Joint Venture has created a crisis on the site and that urgent rectification is needed.
“Given their record we will be scrutinising the comprehensive safety improvement plan very closely,” Mr Callinan said.
“Snowy 2.0 will need to implement an active management plan as the JV is clearly struggling to provide a safe workplace.”