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Solar Timbers sheds more jobs

Australian Solar Timbers (AST) has shed another 15 jobs, with managing director Douglas Head citing deteriorating sales in 2013 as the main factor in the company’s decision. Source: The Macleay Argus

It equates to a reduction of about 30% of the workforce.

Head said it had been a very difficult, but unavoidable, decision to make so many staff redundant and some of those that had lost their jobs had had more than 30 years’ experience in the industry.

The timber mill downsized 11 months ago, letting go of 20 employees and reducing by 75% its log intake, after failing to gain a change in the law that would have allowed it to reduce energy costs by using wood waste to fuel its own electricity.

The managing director said AST had experienced a difficult 2012, but had ended the year on budget. However, sales had slowed this year, he added.

Head said the high Australian dollar had affected the manufacturing sector, with February rains taking a further toll on the building industry.

And he blamed federal government for exacerbating AST’s problems.

“The choice to have an unprecedented seven-month election campaign, with all the consequent unsettling hoopla, and the significant effects of the carbon tax on electricity prices have been unnecessary handicaps,” Head said.

“AST’s electricity prices have risen by over $10,000 per month and our efforts to move into renewable energy have been squashed by the government’s deal with the Greens, even though this was against the advice of their own expert committee.

“It is this kind of political hypocrisy which is so disheartening to business.

“That and the divisive anti-business rhetoric, which I personally find so poisonous to aspiration and business confidence.”

The AST boss said the company had had a successful recent record of adapting to changed business conditions and was developing new ways to market an innovative range of new products to rebuild AST for its remaining employees.