East Gippsland Going-ons

Workers take exit and re-enter packages

Many workers who have chosen to pack up and leave the logging industry have taken up to $90,000 off the government under the exit packages offered. However, with this cash in hand many have also walked out the door, turned around and walked straight back in to get back in their trucks, bulldozers and on their chainsaws. Some have gone up to Melville Island to clearfell its rainforest for pulp, over which plantations will be established. Some have simply gone to work for another boss in the same region, displacing workers who chose to stay on. Seems like these deals and the clauses were pretty shonky ­ no doubt worked out with the help of the industry.

Pulpwood upgrade

Now that Daishowa is shunning anything other than young white uniform regrowth wood in East Gippsland, we suddenly see the industry looking to use what used to be a ‘waste’ log, as appearance or structural grade timber. Fancy that. DSE and CSIRO trials have shown that trees previously graded as woodchip quality can be used for sawn timber. A pity this wasn’t ‘discovered’ 30 years ago when we first told them.

Bairnsdale upgrades export woodchip rail facility

Fennings woodmill in Bairnsdale takes in 20,000 m3 pa from the Tambo and Central Gippsland areas. They send whole logs to Geelong for export via the rail line which runs past their mill. They chip logs on site that are trucked to the Maryvale paper mill in Latrobe Valley. Recently the passenger rail reopening has seen an upgrade for the Bairnsdale line that has included a new log loading facility built for them.

Industry groups spat over Buchan mill closure

The Forestry section of the CFMEU and its Michael O’Connor, instigated a walk-out of workers over pay and conditions in mid February. Three weeks later, when the union and mill owners couldn’t reach an agreement, the Buchan mill locked out the workers. That was months ago and now the mill has decided to close down as they’re no longer commercially viable.

The Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) has been telling the union to but-out and get real; the mill can’t afford their demands (more than $400 pw pay) as they’re financially teetering. Michael O’Connor said rubbish ­ show us ya books to prove it. And so the stoush has gone on over the weeks.

This is an interesting turn of events where two groups claiming to represent the logging industry are now publicly sparring and blaming each other for the mill closure. It is also a telling sign that the industry, with all its props and subsidies is finding it hard to make enough profit to pay its workers a decent wage.

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