More jobs were lost in the timber industry this week, and FIRST Union called on the government to take action.
Eurocell Timber in Upper Hutt is shutting down its mill, with the loss of up to 40 jobs. The company said that a lack of pick up from the Christchurch rebuild, trouble sourcing affordable logs, a weak housing sector and competition from exporters of raw logs were factors in its closure.
“Our union has regularly dealt with wood processing job losses, including several over the past six months in Kawerau, Tangiwai and Feilding, as well as reduced hours in other areas,” said Robert Reid, General Secretary of FIRST Union.
“We estimate 1,200 jobs had been lost since 2008 in the wood processing industry, but that figure could be well under half the real amount when attrition and unreported job losses are taken into account.” The concerns were backed up by the release of the Economic Survey of Manufacturing which showed a decline in the volume of wood and paper product manufacturing sales in September 2011 quarter (the sector has declined in five out of the past eight quarters).
Robert Reid said earlier this year the union (then the NDU) organised a crisis meeting with Forestry Minister David Carter, the EPMU and wood industry representatives, and put forward six ideas to help the wood processing industry.
“The government cannot sit back and do nothing. They should be adopting a strategic approach to procurement for the Canterbury rebuild, by guaranteeing only local sawn timber and engineered wood products are used in the rebuild, and looking at a lower domestic log price to enable wood processors to manufacture in New Zealand.”