Paul O’Brien at the Jobs Expo. Shoulder to shoulder with more than 300 redundant employees, Paul O’Brien went to work finding a new job yesterday.
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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

with you.”

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