The EPMU and NDU say that while a meeting with Forestry Minister David Carter today was constructive, there remain serious differences on solutions for the jobs crisis in wood processing.
"At a time when the timber industry is suffering a downturn the government has an important role to play in maintaining the sector's capacity, including the preservation of a skilled workforce and the continuation of training opportunities for young workers entering the workforce," says EPMU senior national industrial officer Paul Tolich.
NDU general secretary Robert Reid says that David Carter agreed to investigate whether maximum use of New Zealand lumber is being made for Christchurch reconstruction work.
"The Minister was unaware that New Zealand was importing Chilean lumber, and asked his officials to investigate that," he says.
"However, David Carter indicated the government was not prepared under any circumstances to look at issues regarding the exchange rate, or trying to bring down the local price for logs. Governments committed to the dogma of the free market sadly give away many of their options to resolve or address issues such as those facing wood processing," he says.
Paul Tolich says that unions are committed to continuing to put forward options to help the timber industry.
"Over 1,500 jobs have been lost from wood processing since 2008. A hands-off approach from the government will do nothing to help Kiwi workers," he says.
The government also agreed to involve unions in a proposed WoodCo and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry study, and would consider any proposals for temporary hours reduction subsidies, similar to those used in the '9 Day Fortnight' last year, he says.