Ta Ann workers told jobs are safe

TA ANN Tasmania has reassured its110 workers that their jobs are safe — for now.

The Malaysian-based company announcedits decision yesterday after threatening to close its Southwood and Huon millsif a forest peace deal wasn’t ratified by the Tasmanian Parliament.

Instead, all employees will be stooddown with pay for seven weeks, rather than the typical three weeks.

The company has also put its plansfor a $10 million plywood mill in the North on hold.

Ta Ann Tasmania executive directorEvan Rolley said it would stay operating because:

*state-owned business Forestry Tasmaniahad agreed not to pursue payment it was entitled to if Ta Ann didn’t accept contractedwood supplies;

*the Commonwealth would start negotiatingpayments with Ta Ann in exchange for reduced wood supply contracts;

*the stategovernment had taken steps to reduce its power bills; and

*environmentgroups had committed to support Ta Ann in an overseas market campaign to startnext month.

‘‘What’s happened in the last 72 hoursis, frankly, a really remarkable effort.

None of those elements were there a week ago, andsome of those elements only came together (yesterday) morning,’’ Mr Rolley said.

He will write to all MLCs to outlinethe company’s position and urge them to carry out their inquiry into the dealas quicklyas possible so a vote is taken on the Tasmanian Forests AgreementBill.

Mr Rolley said delaying that vote bymonths had cost the company another customer in Japan and hundreds of thousands ofdollars.

At the same time, federal EnvironmentMinister Tony Burke said that he would progress every aspect of the peace dealhe could while the Legislative Council deliberated.

Ta Ann Tasmania has told workers their jobs are safe, after threatening to close its Huon and Southwood mills.

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