Improved Compensation for Victorian Timber Workers is a Union Victory

23 August 2023

CFMEU Manufacturing Division has achieved a significant breakthrough in securing a better compensation package for Victorian timber workers impacted by the closure of the State's hardwood industry.

This victory comes after an intensive union campaign aimed at improving the prospects of affected workers. The newly negotiated compensation package includes several key provisions:

1. Redundancy Package Enhanced to $200,000

Workers facing job loss due to the industry's closure will now be eligible for a redundancy package of up to $200,000. This financial safety net provides crucial support during the transition.

2. Retraining Assistance

$8,000 will be allocated for retraining assistance, empowering workers with new skills for future employment opportunities.

3. Relocation Support

For those compelled to relocate for work, a substantial $45,000 will be provided to ease the financial burden of moving.

4. Increased Redundancy Cap

The government's Worker Support top-up redundancy payment cap has been raised from $120,000 to $150,000, further bolstering workers' financial stability during this challenging period.

5. Extra Support for Older Workers

Older workers, with more than 45 years of service, will receive additional payments of up to $50,000. This translates to an extra three weeks' pay for every year worked, recognizing the unique challenges faced by seasoned workers in securing re-employment.

The need for improved support for workers in the native forest industry became even more pressing when the industry's closure was accelerated to 2024.

CFMEU Manufacturing Assistant National Secretary Leo Skourdoumbis emphasized the importance of solidarity among workers, stating, "It is only by workers sticking together and fighting that we have achieved this result."

Historically, the worker support package was minimal, offering just three weeks' pay per year worked, with a meagre government contribution capped at $23,000. However, persistent efforts by union led to significant improvements, including an extension to four weeks' pay per year (capped at $120,000) for every year worked in the native hardwood industry, irrespective of the employer.

Result achieved showcases the profound impact that collective action and determination can have in securing better deals and recognition of the unique challenges faced by workers, especially those with extensive experience in their respective fields.