Pulp & Paper workers launch billboard campaign

Friday 9 Aug 2013

With four generations of his family having worked at Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, Traralgon local Chris Robertson is passionate about the future of the largest private sector employer in the Latrobe Valley.

Along with fellow mill workers, Mr Robertson launched two prominent billboards in the heart of Morwell on Wednesday, with the aim of putting their industry’s future firmly on the political agenda during the five-week Federal Election campaign. The billboards — part of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s ‘Let’s Spread It Around’ campaign — carry a simple message: “Don’t shred pulp and paper jobs. Buying Australian paper means Australian jobs.”

For Mr Robertson, who has worked at the mill for 23 years, 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,” Mr Robertson said. “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. “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”.

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