Daniel Lombo with the sawmill?s kelpie.
Daniel Lombo with the sawmill?s kelpie.

Bostobrick mill one big family

By BELINDA SCOTT

WHEN Dave Bale arrived at Boral's Bostobrick sawmill for a job interview 14 years ago, he was on crutches, with five stitches in his ankle. After falling off the jetty in Coffs Harbour, he didn't think he'd have a hope of a job, but the then manager, Graham Woods, said to him: 'if you're game enough to come up here with stitches, I'm game enough to take you on." The benchman (sawyer) has been at Bostobrick ever since and has lived in one of the mill cottages for 12 years. "We've built up a family-and-friends sort of situation here," he said. "We get on well together and work well together. We're not in each other's pockets but we invite each other over for drinks or a barbecue occasionally." Boral's Bostobrick's sawmill closed yesterday and many of its 22 staff are now looking for new jobs which will allow them to stay on the Dorrigo plateau. The Bostobrick mill will be secured and 'mothballed' by Boral, which has an expanded new 'supermill' at Heron's Creek near Port Macquarie. Bostobrick workers have been upset to learn that they must spend all their redundancy money from Boral, except for $2500, before they will be eligible for assistance through Centrelink. CFMEU organiser 'Bluey' Menon said the union was due to have its second meeting with the NSW Premier's Department yesterday. The CFMEU is campaigning to get Forestry Industry Structural Adjustment Program (FISAP) funds to provide the workers with money for retraining and other assistance to make a fresh start and a public meeting at Dorrigo last week backed this campaign. Boral received about $10 million in structural adjustment funding to expand its Heron's Creek sawmill to use smaller logs, but more than $4 million of FISAP funds remain unspent. The member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, appealed in Parliament last month for the government to support the Bostobrick workers, saying the FISAP fund had been designed for just this purpose and Briggsvale and Cascade were already ghost towns as a result of NSW forest policy.



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