Premier Jacinta Allan must immediately upgrade the measly support packages offered to forest contract workers today.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the latest offering is unfair and falls well short of the mark.
“It was only yesterday in Parliament I raised that these payments need to be fair. But in true form, the day after the last sitting of Parliament for the year, the government puts out a paltry package it cannot be questioned on until February next year – disgraceful behaviour.
“This comes after Premier Allan just weeks ago committed to meeting with contractor representatives before this was finalised, but now refuses to do so.
“Offering these families 30 cents in the dollar on their existing contracts, some of which finish in June, potentially puts them into a position where they could lose the house they live in. I would like any government representative to tell me how that is a fair outcome for a sector it has shut down, having originally promised it security until 2030.
“In addition, the government is saying that for those who wish to continue to work for the government, their exit packages will be compromised if they choose this path.
“Contractors rightfully want their exit packages treated separately to future employment possibilities with the Department. They deserve to be fairly compensated for the government ending their industry prematurely. Discussions on future employment for a very different job should be totally separate.”
“Contractors should not be asked to trade off their rightful exit packages against possible future employment,” said Mr Bull.
Australian Forest Contractors Association General Manager, Tim Lester, said “former Premier Dan Andrews said ‘we will wrap every support we possibly can around the people, businesses and communities’. That is not evident in this package.
“Premier Allan said she would meet with us. We are still waiting,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Emma Kealy, said this package does not offer the security they deserve.
“The native timber industry represents a large segment of the state’s overall timber industry, creating 2500 jobs. Jacinta Allan has failed native timber workers.
“As a result of her not meeting with them as promised, there are significant shortfalls in relation to fair compensation for these family businesses, workers and communities that were built around a sustainable forest industry – an industry now destroyed by Labor.
“Premier Allan can’t manage money, can’t manage projects and can’t manage to respect Victoria’s timber workers as she cuts down their jobs, their industry and the future of their communities,” she said.
Friday, 1 December 2023