More job losses in wood – how many more before Govt notices?

Press Release – First Union

As more sawmill job losses are confirmed, a union for wood processing workers is asking how many more mills will close before the Government admits there is a crisis. Eurocell Timber in Upper Hutt is shutting down its mill, with the loss of up to 40 …December 7, 2011

More job losses in wood – how many more before Govt notices?

As more sawmill job losses are confirmed, a union for wood processing workers is asking how many more mills will close before the Government admits there is a crisis.

Eurocell Timber in Upper Hutt is shutting down its mill, with the loss of up to 40 jobs.

The company said that a lack of pick up from the Christchurch rebuild, trouble sourcing affordable logs, a weak housing sector and competition from exporters of raw logs were factors in its closure.

“For a number of years now, wood production has been declining, sawmills closing and workers have been losing their jobs,” said Robert Reid, General Secretary of FIRST Union.

“Our union has regularly dealt with wood processing job losses, including several over the past six months in Kawerau, Tangiwai and Feilding, as well as reduced hours in other areas.”

“We estimate 1,200 jobs had been lost since 2008 in the wood processing industry, but that figure could be well under half the real amount when attrition and unreported job losses are taken into account.

Robert Reid said earlier this year the union (then the NDU) organised a crisis meeting with Forestry Minister David Carter, the EPMU and wood industry representatives, and put forward six ideas to help the wood processing industry.

“The government cannot sit back and do nothing.

“They should be adopting a strategic approach to procurement for the Canterbury rebuild, by guaranteeing only local sawn timber and engineered wood products are used in the rebuild, and looking at a lower domestic log price to enable wood processors to manufacture in New Zealand.”

Ahead of tomorrow’s Monetary Policy Statement, Robert Reid also said that the government was remiss in taking any practical steps to deal with the high and volatile New Zealand dollar which is punishing exporters.

FIRST Union represents 28,000 workers including 1,600 in wood processing. The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces on October 1 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 28,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz

ENDS

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