The EPMU's Timber & Forestry Industry is the section of the EPMU representing more than 3000 working New Zealanders from areas including solid wood products, pulp and paper, panels, packaging and siviculture and harvesting.
Forestry and Timber became its own industry in 2005 and in early 2006 a National Industry Organiser was appointed to oversee the industry.
Presently this industry has several national agreements including Amcor Kiwi Packaging and Carter Holt Harvey Packaging. The industry has a large number of site agreements (approx 68) that are spread over all the areas within the industry.
In 2003 the EPMU and the NDU, the two largest unions involved with timber, developed a joint strategy called Unity which seeks to provide for a stronger relationship between the two unions so that they may better represent there members together. Unity is ongoing as both unions seek to consolidate more agreements together.
The industry is feeling the impact of the exchange rate with its export sector resulting in a downturn in some areas involving redundancies. But in general those sites that are unionised enjoy good terms and conditions of employment.
There are nearly eight thousand union members in the timber industry and over the last five years those on strongly unionised sites have won decent pay increases, time and a half and double time, a fifth week's leave after six years of service and minimum start rates of $15 an hour. By joining the EPMU timber workers are ensuring they get a better deal at work than timber workers on non-unionised sites.
Timber workers in the EPMU are affiliated internationally with the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI).
We also work closely in this industry with the CFMEU Forestry Division in Australia.