Around 100 workers at South Australia's state forest agency ForestrySA must wait six weeks to find out if they can keep their jobs; forestry minister says talks on proposal to halve workforce within a year will begin in July

LOS ANGELES , May 22, 2014 () – At least 100 employees at South Australia's state forest agency ForestrySA will have to wait another six weeks before finding out whether they can keep their jobs, according to a May 22 report by ABC Rural.

Industry Intelligence reported in April that ForestrySA officials had told Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) representatives that it had applied for state government approval to reduce the workforce by around 50% within the next 12 months, starting on July 1. In addition to halving the workforce, ForestrySA is also seeking to halve redundancy packages and increase the use of private contractors, ABC Rural reported.

The CFMEU said at the time that ForestrySA employed 280 people across regional South Australia., mainly in Mt. Gambier and the South East, but also in Mt. Crawford in the Adelaide Hills, and in the Wirrabara area.

The state sold 100 years of harvest rights to its forestry plantations to U.S.-based OneFortyOne Plantations in 2012, with ForestrySA maintaining a management contract to manage the plantations. 

State Forestry Minister Leon Bignell would not confirm whether about 100 jobs in the state's Southeast would be cut, and said employees would know more about their futures in July. He suggested ForestrySA would not be considering the cuts "for the sake of it" and the government would need to discuss the situation, adding that he would meet with CFMEU representatives in about six weeks.

The industry and union say that if the government accepts the proposal, it would be breaking a promise to maintain jobs in the region.

The primary source of this article is ABC Rural, Melbourne, Australia, on May 21, 2014. The original article can be viewed here.

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