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Ed Sheeran

Forest industry fighting back as jobs exported

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First Union says it’s time to stop exporting jobs and start getting real value out of New Zealand’s forests. The union hosted a symposium this week to discuss the future of work in forestry and wood processing.

Industry leaders and international experts discussed options such as bio-refining, more and effective sawmills, and the importance of government procurement for initiatives such as KiwiBuild that would create the certainty and economies of scale needed for investment.

First Union transport, logistics and manufacturing division secretary Jared Abbott says the estimate from the Wood Processing and Manufacturing Association that every ship that leaves the port with raw logs takes with it 38 jobs should ring alarm bells.

"If that was a company in a regional area closing down and losing 38 jobs on a daily basis it would be seen as a crisis but what we have seen is successive governments do nothing about it and there is just so much opportunity, especially with a lot of the industry lining up, the workers, the unions all agreeing on the same thing and the Government talking about doing something about it, it is a real opportunity for us now to change the future and start to keep these jobs in New Zealand," Mr Abbott says.

He says in the past the wood industry and especially silviculture has been an important source of jobs for Maori, but it has become so low paying and dangerous it is mainly migrants doing the jobs.


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