19 Mar 2015

Forestry jobs increasingly at risk - contractor

10:30 am on 19 March 2015

The owner of a Māori forestry company is warning the redundancy of workers at one of the country's largest forest contractors will have a huge impact on tāngata whenua, and other contractors' jobs are at risk.

It is understood Harvestpro is letting 200 contractors go.

Forest Industry Contractors Association president and managing director of Kajavala Forestry, Jacob Kajavala.

Forest Industry Contractors Association president and managing director of Kajavala Forestry, Jacob Kajavala. Photo: SUPPLIED

General manager of Kajavala Forestry said the decision will create a lot of uncertainty in Māori communities and other workers are at risk of losing their jobs.

Jacob Kajavala, of Tūhoe and Ngāti Kahungunu, said some small contracting firms are failing and the Harvestpro redundancies are an example of the problem.

He said Māori often work on the forest floor, and are the most vulnerable because of various challenges facing the industry such as mechanisation.

"Workers are at risk of redundancy, especially with this Harvestpro. I mean that's a lot of people suddenly on the job market in small communities where there are not that many options. They are more than just at risk of losing their jobs, they are at risk of not being able to find a job - that's the more significant risk.

"Tāngata whenua are the people most affected. This is a big blow, this leads to uncertainty, anxiety, not just for the workers, but their entire families and finding other options for employment, that doesn't come easy."

He said it was not just the workforces of big companies such as Harvestpro that were at risk.

"Harvestpro is a very large firm, but there are a number of smaller contracting firms that hire up to a dozen people that are sailing very close to the wind, and this is a very large example of that failure.

"I'm aware of a number of contractors, some of them very experienced and very capable who have, looking at the trading conditions, just decided enough's enough - that's a change I've never seen in the industry before."

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