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12 May 2017

Corporate greed leads to lockout in Victoria timber mill

More than 200 timber mill workers remain locked out at Australia’s largest plywood mill at Myrtleford, Victoria, after failing to meet an agreement with the company. The mill is owned by the New Zealand multinational timber firm Carter Holt Harvey (CHH), who have a record of lockouts and poor faith in collective bargaining negotiations.

After a year of bargaining by BWI affiliates the CFMEU and ETU (as well as the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union), CHH would not meet the workers’ modest demands of a 3 percent annual payrise, one week’s annual leave over Christmas and better access to income protection. The CFMEU had given notice of rolling stoppages and overtime bans from 19 April, before the company responded with a lockout.

“Carter Holt Harvey are putting corporate greed ahead of workers’ livelihoods”, said BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “This mill turned a profit of $40 million last year, none of which would have been possible without these 207 workers. CHH should end the lockout, return to the bargaining table, and quit treating workers like they are simply operational costs.”

The unions have established up a picket line and dozens of workers are attending each day. On 5 May the unions met with the company again, however CHH refused to budge on their position. A hearing began at the Australian Fair Work Commission in Melbourne on Monday, however there has been no outcome so far.

Keep updated with the dispute on this page.