Posts Tagged ‘CFMEU’

  • Paper put on political agenda with billboard campaign

    Victorian paper veteran, Chris Robertson, is working to put the paper industryon the political agenda in the lead up to September’s Federal Election, with a series of billboard campaigns. 

    Robertson, from Traralgon in Victoria, has paper in his blood, so to speak. Four generations of his family have worked at Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, including Robertson himself, who has been employed by the company for 23 years.

    Along with fellow mill workers, Robertson is launching two prominent billboards in the heart of Morwell, Victoria, with the aim of putting their industry’s future firmly on the political agenda during the five-week Federal Election campaign. The billboards will be in place from 7 August.

    The billboards – part of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Let’s Spread It Around campaign – carry the message: “Don’t shred pulp and paper jobs. Buying Australian paper means Australian jobs.”

    For Robertson, the future of his local employer, and the Australian paper industry generally, is a deeply personal issue.

    “Four generations of our family have worked at the Maryvale Mill,” said Robertson. “My grandfather, father and uncle worked there, as did my father-in-law and mother-in-law, and more recently my 23-year-old son started working at the mill in 2011.

    “This mill opened in 1937, and since then it’s been an economic backbone for the communities of Morwell and Traralgon, where most of the 1000 direct employees live. But times are tough for our industry, and we’ve all watched as more than 700 manufacturing jobs in the pulp and paper industry have been lost in just the last three years.

    “You can’t help but worry when you see mills close at Burnie and Wesley Vale in Tasmania and machines shut down in Millicent, South Australia,” he said. “These billboards are part of a campaign to fix the procurement policies of the Australian Government, which is the largest customer of paper products in the country, so that the jobs of Aussie workers in the industry aren’t thrown on the scrapheap.”

    Alex Millar, CFMEU Pulp and Paper Workers District federal secretary, said the billboards also coincided with a postcard writing campaign, which has involved thousands of pulp and paper workers writing to politicians from all major political parties.

    “Workers in the pulp and paper industry don’t want charity, they just want to see sensible policies put in place to ensure the ongoing viability of this important industry,” said Millar. “A simple challenge workers have laid down to all political parties and candidates is to put their money where their mouths are on supporting Australian jobs by using Australian made paper products for all their election materials.”

    According to Millar, the union had been encouraged by the announcement by Kim Carr, Industry and Innovation Minister, that the government planned to introduce a target for 100 per cent of the cars in government fleets to be Australian made, but hoped other industries would receive similar support.

    “The way governments choose to spend their money is a simple, yet highly effective, technique to provide essential long-term sustainability to local manufacturing industries,” said Millar. “The Commonwealth Government is the biggest purchaser of paper products in the country, but their broken procurement policies currently mean quality Australian products are often being replaced with inferior overseas paper, sometimes sourced from companies with a history of environmental and labour abuses.

    “Our union is working with pulp and paper workers around the country to seek bi-partisan support for improved procurement and standards policies to allow Australian manufacturers of paper products to compete with imported products on a level playing field,” he said.

    Robertson’s billboard campaign comes only days after Australian Paper pledged its support of the CFMEU’s Let’s Spread it Around campaign.

  • Australian Paper calls on government to buy local

    Australian Paper is calling on all government departments and public services to buy Australian made paper after pledging its support for the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Let’s Spread it Around campaign. 

    The union’s campaign is designed to encourage local employment and investment within the mining and construction manufacturing sectors. According to the union, multiple pressures, including the high Australian dollar, contributed to an estimated 52,000 manufacturing workers and 68,000 construction workers losing their jobs last year.

    The union is also pointing its finger at the growing number of international workers claiming a temporary 457 visa to work locally.

    In its support of this campaign, Australian Paper, which is the country’s only manufacturer of recycled office paper, is calling on the government to buy locally made paper to help ‘support the thousands of local jobs generated by Australia’s pulp and paper industry’.

    For Jim Henneberry (pictured), Australian Paper CEO, the government represents the single largest national purchaser of paper and, as such, can help stem the influx of paper coming from Southeast Asia with its purchasing decisions.

    “Benefitting from the high Australian dollar, imported papers from countries such as Indonesia, China and Thailand, are flooding into Australia while the valuable contribution of locally manufactured papers to our Australian economy, communities and jobs, is being ignored by many,” said Henneberry in a statement. “Together, Australia’s federal, state and local governments form the largest national paper buying group and we need their support for Australian manufacturing now more than ever before.

    “Stronger government support for Australian made paper should also extend to our colleagues across the broader paper manufacturing industry including the packaging, tissue and newsprint sectors. The CFMEU’s Let’s Spread it Around campaign recognises the importance of local manufacturing and local jobs to healthy Australian communities.

    “Governments at all levels are large users of paper and the campaign emphasises the important role local, state and federal governments can play in taking into account the value created by a major Australian manufacturing industry and the thousands of local jobs we support,” he said.

    Australian Paper’s support of the campaign and the call for locally produced paper sourcing by the government come only a month after the CFMEU called on prime minister Kevin Rudd to support and protect the local paper and print industry by amending the federal government’s paper procurement policy.

    The union’s grassroots campaign came after a major government paper supply contract was signed to a Thai supplier earlier in the year. The union said it would embark on a series of billboard and bus stop advertisements along with a postcard campaign, as part of the Let’s Spread it Around campaign.