Originally written by BRIAN O’BRIEN
TIMBERCORP had no alternative but to sack nearly one third of its staff at its Hamilton office, according to executive officer, John Vaughan.
Development of its timber plantations would in future be only a quarter of their peak last year and staff numbers therefore had to be cut back.
Seven staff in the forestry division of Hamilton office were sacked out of a total staff of 23. Another three forestry positions were axed in Albany (WA).
Mr Vaughan said all surplus staff were offered redundancies on Wednesday and were receiving support in finding new employment.
“We will try and place as many as we can within other parts of our business,” he added.
There was a chance some might get work in the company’s olive industry. All those made redundant have been offered the assistance of a specialist adviser.
In further belt tightening, Timbercorp will vacate its offices on the corner of Gray St and Thomson St in January and consolidate its operations at its site at the former Hamilton abattoirs on Portland Rd.
Mr Vaughan said the lease on the Gray St property expired in 2002 and the company had decided to bring the entire Hamilton team together.
He said cost savings generated by operating a tighter team in the new location would ensure Timbercorp’s integrated forestry operations remained profitable in the long term.
Australia’s largest agribusiness investment manager, Timbercorp said its business had moved from the development stage to a management and harvesting stage.
Over the past nine years, it had striven to build up the size of its plantations.
Peak in 2000
It reached a peak in 2000 when 28,000 ha were developed but in future the company would develop just 6000 to 8000 ha annually which it says should guarantee long-term sustainability.
“The fact is that we will not need to continue developing such large tracts of land in the future,” Mr Vaughan said. “We therefore needed to review our team to ensure it matched our future needs.”
Yesterday, Mr Vaughan denied suggestions sacking workers just before Christmas was insensitive.
“There’s never a good time for these things. We could have let everyone go on holidays and spend all their money and come back and then tell them they don’t have a job.
“They all got generous redundancies don’t let anyone tell you differently.”
The company believed it was a good time to announce it was consolidating at the abattoir site.
“We don’t want people seeing moving vans pulling up and think we are leaving town. We thought it was an opportune time to let people know we are moving to the top of the hill.”
Timbercorp has accumulated over 70,000 ha of timber plantations making it Australia’s largest private hardwood developer. In 2003, harvesting of the earliest plantings will begin and second rotations will be initiated.