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CFMEU joins Liberals against Forestry SA

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has been told by Forestry SA it wants the South Australian Government’s approval to reduce its workforce by 50% within a year and halve redundancy entitlements. Source: The Flinders News, ABC Rural

Around 150 jobs in Wirrabara will be at stake if the government approved the plan.

The news comes on top of a bushfire earlier this year that burnt 90% of the Wirrabara Forest’s timber plantations.

Luke Morgan, co-owner of Morgan Sawmill at Jamestown said the future of the forest and his business isn’t looking good.

“Well Forestry [SA] have said they weren’t going to re-plant the forest unless they had money from the State Government,” he said.

Mr Morgan said the proposed job cuts just signal a lack of support for the forestry industry as a whole.

The Minister for Forests Leon Bignell said no decision on the future of Wirrabara Forest has been made.

“It has to be established whether it’s viable to re-plant the forest and that’s something that Forestry SA is conducting a strategic review to determine,” he said.

In a rare sign of unity the CFMEU and the State Liberal Party are calling on the government to protect jobs in the forestry industry across the state.

CFMEU Greater Green Triangle district secretary Brad Coates said the move would “go against the Government’s commitment a year ago to maintain current arrangements, and would put fire protection of the forests in jeopardy”.

“This move would be totally contrary to assurances given by the State Government that there would be no change to the management of the forests,” Mr Coates said.

In step with Mr Coates is Liberal forests spokesman David Ridgway.

“This will be the first of many broken promises by a Labor Government that was willing to say and do whatever it took to slide back into office,” Mr Ridgway said.

“Labor’s deception regarding the security of jobs for Forestry SA workers began in late 2011 and continued until today – just one month after the state election.”

The union said Forestry SA had known about the plan for four months but had only told them recently, prompting Mr Ridgway to assert that the government had “kept this information hidden from South Australians throughout the course of the election campaign”.

The union has sought an urgent meeting with forests minister Leon Bignell.

“We urge him to scrap this plan by Forestry SA and honour the commitments made in the lead up to the sale,” he said.

Mr Bignell said “no decision has been made” about the proposal by Forestry SA.

“However I have already stated we will not be breaking any commitments made by our Government,” he said.