Response to closure announcement
A worker who wished to remain anonymous has told Ace Radio that the workers are absolutely livid.
He said the workers had in fact been led to believe they were ahead of schedule, they were financially-sound and 'smashing out more logs than they should be.'
"We were being rewarded with sausage sizzles for our good work and to celebrate the company's success."
The worker said they have at least 3 months to prepare for the closure.
"They will be posting jobs within CHH for other areas, they may give financial support to those who want to move away, and they said they may work with the government to be able to reskill the workers to find them more jobs."
STATEMENT from the Hon. Jaala Pulford - Min. for Agriculture, Min. for Regional Development
The Andrews Labor Government is deeply disappointed by the news that Carter Holt Harvey Building Supplies Group (CHH) intends to close its Morwell softwood sawmill, resulting in the loss of 160 jobs.
Our thoughts are with the workers and their families during this difficult time.
The New Zealand based company advised government officials of its intentions yesterday and the Labor Government was eager to explore options to keep the sawmill operating.
However, the Government has been told the closure is unavoidable given poor sawlog quality and a lack of volume available from the privately-owned softwood plantations which supply Carter Holt Harvey.
The plantations from which Carter Holt Harvey sources its wood were privatised and sold to Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP) by the Kennett Government in 1998.
A number of damaging fires, including Black Saturday, across HVP’s Gippsland plantations over the past two decades has severely affected the volume and quality of 28 year-old sawlog available to supply Carter Holt Harvey.
HVP can no longer supply the Morwell mill with enough wood for it to be profitable, having lost approximately 7 million trees to fire.
In contrast to hardwood timber supply, the Government does not own any softwood plantations and is therefore unable to impact the market between softwood growers and timber processors.
Government will work with Carter Holt Harvey to ensure every effort is made to connect impacted workers to support services.
The Latrobe Valley Authority will act as a one stop shop for workers, where they can access support services and other assistance.
Government will continue to discuss the sawmill closure with Carter Holt Harvey and advocate for company-led initiatives to minimise the impact to workers.
Carter Holt Harvey’s other Victorian sawmills in Yarram and Myrtleford are unaffected by the company's decision.
STATEMENT from MP Russell Northe, Member for Morwell
Daniel Andrews must act urgently to reverse the Latrobe Valley’s jobs crisis.
Carter Holt Harvey announced today it had started consulting with staff about the possible closure of its Morwell sawmill, which employs 160 people in our community and hundreds more down the line.
The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe said it was distressing to hear of another local business considering closure, after the loss of other significant employers.
“Growing uncertainty on the future of our local industries has led the Latrobe Valley into a jobs crisis,” Mr Northe said.
“We all know someone who worked at Hazelwood, or any of the other businesses that have shut down recently – like the Latrobe Valley Hotel, BOC Gases, Johnson Health Tech, or Alternate Dwellings.
“Our community has lost far too many jobs lost this year and a superficial media campaign from the Andrews Government has failed to create any of the jobs Labor promised it would.”
Mr Northe said it was galling to hear the Treasurer, in his budget speech just two weeks ago, say ‘this Government is creating jobs, but we’re also focused on protecting jobs’, after so many jobs had been lost in the Latrobe Valley.
“It is up to Tim Pallas and the Andrews Labor Government to now live by its words and protect our jobs,” Mr Northe said.
“Even before the closure of Hazelwood unemployment was up 50 per cent in two years, but Labor continues to put ideology and greens preferences before our local jobs.
“Daniel Andrews promised he would fight for ‘every Victorian job’. But these are hollow words when the only job he is fighting for is his own.”