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Greens back forest workers' rights: call to CFMEU, ALP to back Senate amendments.

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08 March 2002

Greens Back Forest Workers’ Rights Call to CFMEU, ALP to Back Senate Amendments

Greens Senator Bob Brown will move to amend the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) Bill to ensure woodchip companies compensate or re-skill forest workers who are sacked.

“In Tasmania 468 jobs have been axed since the RFA was signed in November 1997. The $110 million RFA subsidy to Forestry Tasmania and the logging industry has created only 106 new jobs, not the 550 promised by Prime Minister Howard and Premier Bacon.

“The RFA bill potentially offers companies millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money as compensation if forests like the Styx Valley, Weld or Tarkine in Tasmania, or Goolengook in Victoria are protected by future federal action. But it offers workers nothing. I am seeking union and ALP support to pass a balancing clause”, said Senator Brown.

The new clause reads: Persons who are eligible to receive compensation in accordance with the provisions of an RFA must compensate any employee or contractor engaged in RFA forestry operations whose employment or contract is terminated. The amount of compensation will include all entitlements, plus the amount of reasonable loss or damage sustained by reason of the termination. The State which is party to the RFA must establish a process for implementing this provision within six months of an RFA being entered into or of this legislation commencing, whichever is first.

Senator Brown will also move amendments to ∙ have logging companies repay local or state government for the cost of road and bridge repair or upgrading due to log truck usage ∙ ensure logging companies rebate local government, landholders or fishing authorities where waterways and estuaries are contaminated by logging activities

∙ restore Commonwealth powers to protect forests and wildlife ∙ make environmental provisions of RFAs binding (as the compensation is) ∙ terminate RFAs where states or the forest authorities breach the agreement ∙ allow parliamentary scrutiny of RFAs

Debate on the RFA Bill will resume in the Senate on Monday afternoon.

Category: Senate Office Author: Ben Oquist