Furniture craftsmen are highly trained and specialised people whose skills are probably not easily transferred to other manufacturing work. That means many of them will be sacked and be thrown on the long-term unemployed scrap-heap, many workers and employers in the industry fear.
The future of the industry is at stake in discussions convened by highly respected former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty who is attempting to devise a compromise over the future of forestry, the Gunns’ pulp mill and the demands of Greens party front-groups and eco-militants. In todayâ€™s Australian, Kelty warned them of the perils of being unreasonable, something they no doubt hear quite a lot.
The Greens demands include also that as many as 1500 timber workers be boned, who are mainly middle-aged blokes from poor, small, struggling rural communities and towns whose future is being attacked by inner-urban rich people like superannuation millionaire Senator Bob Brown who is so flush with funds heâ€™s been able to give away one of his weekender rural retreats to charity.
The furniture and timber industry also employs and gives skills and meaning to the lives of many hundreds of young Tasmanians and apprentices who are trying to make their way in the world without being forced to find work in the mainland or go on the dole, locals have explained to VEXNEWS.
Tasmanian political insiders tell the famed VEXNEWS Investigations Unit that the federal Greens have been extremely hostile to the interests of the workers while the state Greens are splitting away from them on the issue somewhat, with hardline anti-union Tassie Prisons Minister Nick McKim urging Greens front-groups to take a softer line in negotiations.
â€˜Slickâ€ Nick McKim is a poll-driven â€˜calculating politicianâ€™ (as the PM would say) and has probably paid careful attention to the result of a recent Galaxy poll that showed the overwhelming majority of Tasmanians supported the use of local timber. The Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings spoke to the results in Parliament:
Of ALP supporters it was about 80 per cent, of Liberal supporters it was about 90 per cent, and even in the Greens movement it wasÂ 56 per cent, so even a narrow majority of Greens believed that we ought to be able to grow and harvest our trees and usethat timber here in Tasmania.
The furniture industry has been one of Australiaâ€™s manufacturing success stories, representing as much as 10% of our manufacturing sector. The Tasmanian industry is on the verge of extinction if the Greens and their militant front-groups get their way and their only solution is to throw the workers hurt by their policies on the dole.