Image for Forest contractors and workers face ruin if exit package thwarted

The Tasmanian Greens today called on the Liberals, Timber Community Association (TCA) and FIAT (Forest Industries Association Tasmania) to stop trying to wreck the on-going industry restructure talks and an exit package that would let contractors and forest workers leave the industry with dignity, and their homes intact.

Greens Forestry spokesperson Kim Booth said Liberal and Timber industry wreckers should get out of the way and support contractors, so that workers and their families could receive an exit package to leave a financially unviable forest industry.

“The talks between the forest industry and environmental NGOs have reached a critical stage. The Liberals, Timber Communities Australia and FIAT should hang their heads in shame for trying to wreck this process at the 11th hour,” said Mr Booth.

“Contractors and their families already face losing everything. The industry is financially unviable and for industry representatives to join with the Liberals to deny them an exit that could save their homes is beyond indecent.”

“Liberal Shadow Treasurer Peter Gutwein risks being a hypocrite of the highest order. He has previously called for an end to native forest logging, then voted down an industry exit package put up by the Greens in the State Parliament in 2008 and now is cynically using contractors as a political football to get his name up in lights.”

“It’s not Peter Gutwein, Barry Chipman and Terry Edwards who could lose their houses so I urge them to support the timber workers, rather than the timber industry barons, who have laughed all the way to the bank, while contractors lost their houses in the past.”

“Now is the time to take this once-in-a-lifetime offer of millions of Federal dollars to save these families, restructure to a modern, appropriately-scaled industry and end years of division in our community.

“That’s why I will be supporting the rally contractors have organised, calling for a full exit package, outside Parliament this Friday at 1pm,” said Mr Booth.

Earlier on Tasmanian Times:
In full: Forestry Tasmania deals revealed in explosive ‘In-Camera’ revelations as ...
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... ground rules change to suit Forestry
Ben Quin:
I am with Valleywatcher and other similar comments.

However, there is another key issue that has continually been avoided in the discussion that makes a mockery of the speculation from AFR about public compensation for Gunns and other forest contractors.

Apart from its work over the last decade in falling trees, Gunns has also clear-fallen a big swathe of Tasmania’s forest contractors.  How many of the forest contractors currently facing bankruptcy are, or were, under contract to Gunns?  What percentage of the total capacity in the industry do these contracts represent?  Let’s get those figures on the table?

It is widely discussed within the industry that Gunns coerced contractors to take on contracts, where all the risk was with the contractor.  They backed the coercion with bold statements that THE MILL WILL BE BUILT – and if you ain’t with us now, you won’t be with us then.  The signing of the pulp mill wood supply agreement caused a flurry of investment. 

Now Gunns dumps and runs, leaving the contractors with huge debts, worthless contracts and no future.  Gunns expect to be paid compensation for doing this!

Apart from the contract coercion, there was muscling of other sorts. I am personally aware of an employee who was sacked, for refusing an employer’s directive to attend a rally in support of Gunns.  This employer has now been the recipient of compensation “to exit the industry with dignity” in the last round of the payouts sham.  What about the poor bloody employee?

This crappy dealing must be exposed.  Burke and Kelty – proud Labor boyos – should be ashamed of themselves for pandering to such industrial muscle.  Where is discussion of the need for investigation of dodgy contract practices?

I lay the blame for the current bankruptcies amongst the contracting sector squarely at Gunns feet.  Someone prove me wrong.  Otherwise, let Gunns pick up the tab for any further compensation: HERE