Paper mill workers facing an uncertain future

Friday 9 Dec 2022

Hundreds of workers at a large paper mill in regional Victoria could soon be stood down because of a timber shortage, while the company considers its long-term future. The Opal Australian Paper mill at Maryvale in the Latrobe Valley is due to run out of materials to make white paper about December 23.

Its supplier, government-owned timber business VicForests, has been ordered to scale back harvesting in parts of East Gippsland and the Central Highlands, where two endangered possum species live. The mill anticipates some workers will be temporarily stood down, while others may have a reduced workload.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Stephen Dodd expects about 250 people may initially be affected. A spokesperson for Opal Australian Paper said in the long term the company is considering scaling down white-paper operations or stopping them entirely, which could lead to potential redundancies.

"This is a complex and ever-changing situation and no longer-term decisions on operational changes have been made at this stage," the spokesperson said. The company is trying to find alternative wood supplies, but has so far been unsuccessful.

A VicForests spokesperson said it had paused all timber harvesting and engaged experts to create new practices in line with the court order. They said the organisation was exploring how to address supply issues and provide compensation to impacted sawmills and contractors.

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Source:, ABC

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