Following further job losses at the Shoalhaven paper mill on the NSW South Coast, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) announced the re-launch of its ‘Don’t Shred Pulp and Paper Jobs’ campaign today, which aims to promote the local pulp and paper industry.
“This mill, which like so many pulp and paper mills in communities across the country is the lifeblood of the local economy, is suffering a death by a thousand cuts,” CFMEU Pulp and Paper Workers District secretary Alex Millar said.
The total number of locals who have lost their jobs at the Shoalhaven mill since 2006 has now risen to 148 after the cancellation of a shift cut seven jobs.
According to the district secretary, all of Australia’s politicians should take responsibility and “stop the bleeding” of local jobs in regional communities like Shoalhaven.
“If their inaction continues, this mill and others around Australia will inevitably be forced to close, causing untold suffering to the regional communities and the local economies they support,” Millar said.
The CFMEU said the community was already suffering 7.6% unemployment and 15.4% youth unemployment prior to today’s announcement.
The 148 job losses at the Shoalhaven mill since 2006 come on top of 700 direct job losses in the same period through machine and pulp mill closures in Burnie and Wesley Vale (Tasmania) and Millicent (South Australia).
The ‘Don’t Shred Pulp and Paper Jobs’ initiative is part of the CFMEU’s Let’s Spread it Around Campaign which has involved sustained activity from union members at pulp and paper mills in Shoalhaven, Maryvale, Botany, Box Hill, Springvale, Millicent, Boyer and Tumut as well as workers upstream and downstream in the supply chain.
The campaign has successfully raised awareness of the significant challenges facing the industry among politicians, the printing sector and the general public.
The situation facing the industry remains dismal, as evidenced by today’s announcement. Mr. Millar believes that in order to stop the loss of jobs, real political support is needed.
“Our union will write to all newly-elected, re-elected and continuing Federal MPs requesting specific commitments from them to set an example by buying Australian made paper products, and by supporting fair trade and sensible government procurement policies,” he said.
A pledge form asking MPs to state their positions on a series of initiatives promoted by the union to defend jobs will accompany the letter.
According to Mr. Millar, the responses will indicate the level of support individual MPs have for the workers not only at the Shoalhaven mill, but the thousands of pulp and paper workers and tens of thousands of other workers who depend on the industry, their families and communities across Australia.
The union said it would be publicising the responses in all possible forums.
“Our message to politicians is clear: if their inaction on these issues continues to result in the shredding of our members’ jobs, then workers, their families and their local communities will shred the politicians’ jobs,” Mr Millar said.