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Anderton tells forestry sector look after workers

14 October 2003
Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Anderton tells forestry sector to look after its workers

It is in the long-term interests of the forestry sector to look after its workforce through the good and bad times, Regional Development Minister and Progressive Party leader, Jim Anderton, told the NZ Forest Industries Council conference in Wellington today.
"In the last three years, I have advocated strongly amongst my Cabinet colleagues and in the regions about how important the forestry and wood processing industry is to the future of this country.

"A common reaction has been that this industry is not a reliable employer and sheds workers on a regular basis as an industry response to commodity cycles.

"I have had to answer letters and queries from people throughout the country questioning me as to why I am so strongly supporting this industry when it is causing significant damage to some of its own workforce.

"My message to you as an industry is that you must change. You cannot expect the community and workers to support your future aspirations if they continue to be devastated on a regular basis," Jim Anderton said.

"You cannot expect your partners - that is the coalition government, communities and workers - to be there working with you if this carries on.

"You must move your industry up the value chain into more complex manufactured goods that are not as price sensitive as raw logs

"I accept that there are some strong forces such as a rising exchange rate behind the recent downturn. I also accept that it is tough to break out of the commodity cycle. But what your partners, including the coalition government are looking for, is strong leadership and commitment from the industry that it will change," Jim Anderton said.

"You need to show a commitment to change, to find ways to improve stability within the industry and hence the workforce. You need to have an agenda that instills confidence amongst your workforce. You must have an agenda that demonstrates fairness and leadership," he said.

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