Victorian Government MPs will face flying pickets, mass community meetings and rolling stoppages as timber workers ramp up their campaign to highlight the turmoil facing the industry.
The crisis facing the forestry sector escalated last week after a court injunction halted harvesting in areas earmarked to provide timber for sawmilling and paper manufacturing over the coming weeks and months, putting jobs at risk.
It follows the fiasco of the Andrew’s Government’s transition plan to end native timber forestry, along with their ham-fisted approach to salvage harvesting following the devastating bushfires crisis.
The union representing timber workers, the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union, said it was drastically escalating its campaign to protect thousands of timber jobs due to ongoing atrocious mismanagement of the industry by the Victorian Government.
“The industry is in crisis, people are bleeding and the Victorian Government is out to lunch,” Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“What is clear is that the Government has no proper or viable plan for the industry.
“The Government is flat footed, asleep at the wheel and we’ll be making it our mission to wake them up from their slumber.”
The industry was already in disarray prior to last week’s injunction, with some workers and contractors stood down or out of work for months, anti-timber protestors running amok in forestry coupes, contracts voided by VicForests, and the fate of sawmills’ wood supply agreements up in the air.
People in the industry have lost trust in the Victorian Government and its chaotic bureaucratic processes, it’s authorities, agencies and departments.
Mr O’Connor said there was growing frustration, bewilderment and shock to the degree of incompetence and seeming disregard from some corners of people’s predicaments.
“Workers and working communities should never be treated like this by a Labor Government or indeed any Government,” he said
“The union will use every available tactic and forum available to it to change the Government’s shambolic approach until they begin to take the plight of workers, their families and communities seriously.
“Workers in the industry, their families and communities are understandably appalled.
“The gloves are coming off and timber communities punch above their weight, so the Andrews Government better be ready, or better still, be prepared to reset their plans and approach.”