8 Dec 2011

Union urges Govt action to help timber industry

8:59 pm on 8 December 2011

A union representing wood processing workers says Government intervention is needed to save the industry from a crisis.

The Eurocell timber mill in Upper Hutt is the latest of several to announce it is closing, blaming difficulties such as getting affordable logs.


FIRST Union estimates that 1300 jobs have been lost. It says the strong New Zealand dollar and delays to the rebuild of quake-hit Christchurch are not helping.

Union general secretary Robert Reid says a promise is needed that wood used in the rebuild will be New Zealand-made.

The union has 1600 members in the finance, industrial, retail and transport sectors.

However, Forestry Minister David Carter says the days of subsidies for industries are over and there is not going to be Government intervention in the exchange rate or a subsidised log price for New Zealand processors.

If he is re-appointed as Minister of Forestry, Mr Carter says he is prepared to work closely with the industry "so it can consider ways it can become a strong viable industry for the future".

Wood Processors Association chief executive Jon Tanner says that while several are buckling, some operators are doing very well.

Mr Tanner says the industry is rationalising - meaning less jobs, but more efficient mills.