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Strike actioned in SA
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Timber workers rallied at Mount Gambier after walking off the job for 24 hours in the south-east of South Australia. The dispute affected five Carter Holt Harvey sites and involved about 700 employees. Sources: ABC News, The Australian
Union organiser Brad Coates said they wanted to give a message to Forestry SA that log prices are unsustainably high in the current market.
"With the high Australian dollar, increased overseas imports and the contraction of the housing market here in Australia ... if we don't get some relief on log prices we will be facing job losses not just here in the south-east but right across the country," he said.
"Our intention is not to hurt industry, our intention is not to hurt Carter Holt Harvey in any way - our whole intention is to send a clear message to the Government that we are serious and this is the start of a campaign to achieve what we want, which is job security at the end of the day.
Coates said the government should bow to Carter Holt Harvey's demands because it would be less of a burden to taxpayers than a bailout package.
Timber workers such as Mick Spong said the mock coffin strikers left at the locked doors of Forestry SA's premises summed up the future unless the Government did more to help.
SA Treasurer Jack Snelling said the Government cannot and will not interfere in private contracts between Carter Holt Harvey and Forestry SA.
"If we were to interfere with those contracts that would have massive implications for the entire timber milling industry in the south-east, potentially putting at risk other jobs in other timber mills," he said.
"I just simply won't do that, but what we can do is to provide assistance to Carter Holt Harvey and that's the basis of the package that we put to Carter Holt Harvey a week or so ago.
"I really think the best thing the union could do would be to go to Graham Hart, the owner of Carter Holt Harvey, and ask him why he's turning down a multi-million-dollar assistance package which would protect those jobs."
The board chairman of Forestry SA, Ian Kowalik, said negotiations with Carter Holt Harvey had been unsuccessful.
"What they have demanded is way below what the market price of timber is and the level that they want means that growing trees is not sustainable," he said