Tas log hauliers fight APPM
By Sam Wainright
and Natasha Simons
HOBART — Three log trucks are parked outside state parliament in a protest by log hauliers in the wake of the Burnie paper mill dispute. Log truck drivers and owners from Tasmania's east coast are mobilising to draw attention to the fact that they have been forced out of work by APPM's attacks on workers' rights and conditions.
Under the company's new contracts, truck operators will be employed by contracting log harvesters, instead of being paid by APPM according to the quantity of wood delivered to the Triabunna chip mill. Under this new system, owners and drivers will lose workers' compensation paid by APPM (previously the company provided for workers' comp by putting aside 10 cents per tonne delivered), and they will have no recourse to APPM if the harvester goes bankrupt. Some hauliers have already lost their jobs when a bankrupt harvester was bought out by another harvester.
Alistair Baker, owner of one of the trucks parked outside Parliament House, and a member of the East Coast Log Hauliers Association, says hauliers recognise that there are too many trucks in the business, but demand a return to previous conditions until new guidelines are negotiated.
APPM is refusing to talk to the hauliers, and is treating them with contempt, says Baker. The new contract system is "APPM's method of getting someone else to do the dirty work". He says harvesters have threatened to sack truck drivers refusing to sign the new contracts. Some have decided they may as well be sacked, because the new contract made the job not worth having.
The protesters are calling for more government control over the forest industry and APPM, but the government seems "very scared" of the company, says Baker.
The hauliers have a good relationship with the Burnie mill workers, the Burnie community and the Transport Workers Union. "Everyone is standing behind one another because APPM is seen as a company that will try to walk over the top of us", says Baker.