NZ workers employed over locals

SEVENTY contract workers from New Zealand were deployed at Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill last fortnight, despite bouts of protests from local workers in recent years.

About 350 maintenance workers were employed at the Maryvale Mill during a 12-day annual maintenance shut, which finished on Friday.

Although 80 per cent were local workers, Australian Paper awarded New Zealand firm Hutec Engineering the tender to complete a package of specialised outage work.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Steve Dodd said the union was disappointed local workers were once again bypassed for international contractors.

“Our message would be for Australian Paper to employ local workers and local contractors on these outages as opposed to people from international companies,” Mr Dodd said.

“Our view would be they should give local workers at least a chance.

“Especially at the height of the high unemployment rate at this point in time, it’s not very good that our guys aren’t being looked after.”

Australian Paper spokesperson Craig Dunn said the decision to choose Hutec Engineering followed an open tender process that included Latrobe Valley firms.

“It is vital that this specialised work is undertaken to the highest standard within a very strict timeframe and Hutec has the specific expertise required to deliver these outcomes,” Mr Dunn said.

He said the firm could draw on a range of experience across Australia and New Zealand, including the overhaul and maintenance of complex pulp and paper systems.

“Their tender submission provided the right balance of expertise and efficiency for this shut,” Mr Dunn said.

“Australian Paper Maryvale is one of the largest private employers in the Latrobe Valley and the majority of our workforce lives locally.

“We will continue to give local companies every opportunity to respond to future tenders.”