Victorian timber industry on brink of collapse, warns union

Published: 6 Mar 2020

The union representing timber workers, the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union, says the Victorian Government must urgently act to stop thousands of workers being thrown out of work and communities being gutted.


Today’s shock decision to grant an injunction to prevent timber harvesting in 13 coupes requires immediate Government action.


The consequences will be diabolical to the industry including workers, forest contractors, sawmillers and Gippsland’s largest private sector employer Australian Paper if the Government doesn’t immediately act according to the union.


“This an emergency, we need the Government to immediately change the harvesting prescription in Victoria to avoid an immediate employment disaster,” said Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor.


“If they don’t act, the industry will grind to a halt, workers will be stood down, more pressure will be piled on contractors, and communities will be devastated.


“The Government can’t sit on their hands on this one.


“If they don’t act the industry will collapse and collapse quickly.”


According to the union, the Government must urgently amend regulations which govern timber harvesting to allow harvesting in these coupes and shield other harvesting from these types of challenges.


The amendments the union wants will not change the sustainable way that timber is harvested but close a loophole being exploited by anti-timber activists in the courts.


“This should be a no-brainer for the Government,” Mr O’Connor said.


“The Government needs to support these workers, their families and communities now.”


The union is also calling for immediate financial support for forest contractors and their crews many of who were just recently heroically defending their communities in fire fighting efforts.


Many contractors have been out of work, some for many months due to previous injunctions and having their contracts voided by VicForests following the fires.


“It’s time for the Government to get serious about the future of workers and contractors in this industry,” Mr O’Connor said.


“They must act and act now.”


Authorised by Michael O'Connor, National Secretary,165 Bouverie Street Carlton 3053