Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union
A powerful union has blasted Victorian Labor following a briefing provided earlier this week about the Government’s plan to shut down the native timber industry.
The briefing confirmed the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union’s view that the plan is a half-baked, mishmash of talking points rather than a serious transition plan for workers and communities.
According to the union, three months after the Government’s announcement the only certainty that workers have been provided is that they are going to get shafted.
“You’d think that some progress would have been made given the backlash to the announcement and the confusion and chaos it has caused but there appears to be none,” Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“To us, the public servants tasked with providing the briefing appeared embarrassed about the program that they are being asked to implement”
The briefing left the workers and employer and forest contractor representatives in attendance flabbergasted and disappointed about the continued lack of urgency, empathy, compassion and professionalism of the Victorian Labor Government.
The inadequacy of the program meant to provide mental health support for workers and their families was particularly shocking and galling.
“Following a series of blows, including the announcement of the closure of the industry in November and the fires, there are many workers and contractors who are really stressed and doing it tough,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Speaking as a long-term Labor party member, it’s bitterly disappointing to see a Labor Government come up with a policy which has clearly been drawn up by people with no Labor values and no vision for a fairer community nor a genuinely ‘just’ transition.”
The only good news from the briefing was information provided that the impact on the harvestable forest resource of the recent catastrophic bushfires is not as severe as was originally thought by many.
This presents is a good opportunity to ease some of the current pain and uncertainty being felt by contractors, workers and communities through the swift commencement of sustainable and sensible salvage harvesting operations.
“What we now know is that there is plenty of merchantable timber which is fire effected and ready for harvest following appropriate checks,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Salvage harvesting will have social, economic and environmental benefits.
“What we really need now is some political will from the Government to get it moving.”