Mex­i­can stand­off at mill

Alpine Observer - - News - By BRAD WORRALL

MILL work­ers say they had no choice but to take in­dus­trial ac­tion.

The work­ers were es­corted off the Carter Holt Har­vey’s Myrtle­ford ply­wood mill at 2am last Wed­nes­day as they pre­pared for the first of 4-hour rolling stop­pages to protest the lack of ac­tion on their en­ter­prise bar­gain agreement.

On Mon­day the union again asked for a meet­ing with the com­pany but at the time of go­ing to print was yet to get a re­sponse.

CFMEU as­sis­tant sec­re­tary An­drew Ven­dramini said they planned to meet with state and fed­eral politi­cians in the com­ing days.

He hopes they may be able to help bro­ker a deal.

The work­ers them­selves, said to be about 160 full-time and about 40 ca­su­als, say the pay deal has been in negotiation for more than 18 months and now out of date for about a year.

The main sticking points are a 3 per cent pay rise an­nu­ally over three years, one week’s an­nual leave al­low­able in the Christ­mas hol­i­day pe­riod and bet­ter ac­cess to in­come pro­tec­tion insurance.

A week af­ter the lock­out the site remains a Mex­i­can stand­off, work­ers at a camp­site out­side the mill and se­cu­rity guards man­ning tem­po­rary cy­clone wire fenc­ing.

“This has dragged on for 18 months, we first went to see the com­pany about the EBA six months be­fore the last one ex­pired and they didn’t want to talk to us,” the worker, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said.

“We tried ev­ery­thing to avoid this but it is now 12 months later and they have re­fused to budge – there was some anx­i­ety and angst but peo­ple here are now united.

“This isn’t easy on us or our fam­i­lies – we have enough money to pay our bills and that is about all.

“In the last EBA the com­pany pleaded poor and we ac­cepted less than we be­lieved we were en­ti­tled too, now this is the largest ply­wood mill in the coun­try and they are of­fer­ing us the same deal.

“We just want this re­solved as soon as pos­si­ble.”

The union says Carter Holt Har­vey is of­fer­ing a 2 per cent in­crease an­nu­ally over the three-year deal.

An­other worker said the Christ­mas shut­down had been a fea­ture of the mill for as long as they could re­mem­ber.

“About two years ago that all changed – now the shifts con­tinue and so many work­ers don’t get to spend time with their fam­i­lies,” he said.

“We don’t want to re­turn to the two week shut­down, we’re just ask­ing for a week.

“At the mo­ment the weather has been good to us and there is a stack of sup­port from peo­ple trav­el­ling past – it is amaz­ing.”

Carter Holt Har­vey have not re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment.

The last in­dus­trial ac­tion over pay deals at the mill was in 1993.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.