LETTER: Timber workers take action against national giant

By Brad Coates – CFMMEU Greater Green Triangle District secretary

THIS week saw widespread timber worker, contractor and community support across the country for the COVID-19 safe action take place at a Bunnings Store in Traralgon, Victoria in defence of forestry jobs.

This is a reaction to the decision by Bunnings to stop stocking timber sourced from Victoria’s sustainably managed native forests and will have a devastating impact on regional jobs in places such as Orbost and Heyfield.

Many of the communities affected have already been impacted greatly by the bushfires earlier this year and already facing a jobs crisis, the short-sighted decision by Bunnings has added to the uncertainty in the industry and timber workers are committed to fighting back to get the decision reversed.

The protest action at Bunnings Traralgon in Gippsland this week was a sign of things to come at Bunnings Warehouses across Australia if they do not agree to reverse the ban on local timber.

Bunnings continues to stock imported timber from countries at high risk of deforestation and illegal logging, harvested and processed in countries with sub-standard working and safety conditions.

The blockade at Bunnings Traralgon this week was backed up with hundreds of sawmill workers, contractors and their crews phoning Bunnings head office calling for a reversal of the decision.

An online campaign has seen thousands of Australians committing to boycott Bunnings until they reverse the local timber ban.

COVID-19 has to date prevented larger rallies, demonstrations and actions at Bunnings stores in metropolitan Melbourne, but once restrictions have eased a targeted national campaign will be rolled out.

The Construction Forestry Mining Maritime and Energy Union members will not sit back and be pushed around by Bunnings and Wesfarmers short-sighted decisions that will see an increase in timber imported from countries where unsustainable logging and land clearing is supported, while local jobs supported by highly regulated and sustainable practices disappear.