“No confidence” in Maryvale management

Maryvale mill union members have passed no confidence motion against Opal Australian Paper. file photograph

Michelle Slater

Union members at the Maryvale mill have moved a no confidence motion against Opal Australian Paper management and called on the Andrews Government to help save their jobs.

Workers held a meeting at Maryvale on Tuesday after being told Opal will be handing out stand-downs just days before Christmas due to a lack of pulp supplies to make white copy paper.

CFMEU manufacturing division officials fear 220 jobs are under imminent threat in the M5 section of the mill.

It comes after VicForests has stopped logging in areas that came under a Supreme Court decision ordering for better protections for endangered gliders.

This has meant that Opal anticipates that it will be unable to maintain white copy paper production as from December 23.

An Opal spokesperson anticipated there would be temporary stand downs for a number of workgroups in coming weeks.

The spokesperson said Opal was considering a number of long-term scenarios in case it couldn’t find viable alternative wood fibre supplies.

“Given the uncertainty and current lack of supply, as part of our longer term scenario planning, Opal is potentially considering a reduction in size or the closure of white paper production at the Maryvale Mill,” the spokesperson said.

“In the case of this event, Opal anticipates this would result in a reduction in the size of the workforce and potential redundancies.

“We are continuing to consult with our affected team members on this critical issue.”

But the CFMEU is accusing Opal management of showing a “complete lack of engagement and interest in working collaboratively” to secure alternate supplies.

The union is reiterating its call for the state government to help access alternative supplies, and change the timber code of practice to allow logging to continue.

CFMEU national Secretary Michael O’Connor has slammed Opal’s public commentary that the log supply interruption impacted “a small number of workgroups”.

Mr O’Connor said it was in fact indefinite stand-downs and potential redundancy for 220 workers.

“Opal are not being truthful to our members about their jobs. They have not been transparent with the union about their plans,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Our members have zero confidence in Opal and the member meeting turn-out and vote demonstrates that.

“Since Opal’s public support for the Victorian Forestry Plan in 2019, it has been clear to the union, to our members and to local management that this crisis was coming.”

The state government had previously issued a statement that is was “working with Opal to minimise any potential disruption to operations”.