Ray of light for timber families


CATHY Harton said she saw a 'little ray of hope' yesterday afternoon when Boral management told her she would not be forced to leave her Bostobrick cottage on August 15.

Ms Harton is one of six sawmill workers who live with their families in company-owned cottages on company land at Bostobrick, where Boral is closing its timber mill with the loss of all 22 jobs.

The general manger of Boral Timber, Peter Boyd, said yesterday he did not want to go into detail but the situation had 'moved on' and Boral was 'working with its employees and looking at extending leases and other options around that'.

He said a range of options for longer-term solutions was being discussed.

"We don't want to see people out on the street," Mr Boyd said.

"There is a lot of understandable concern and angst about the situation and our first priority is to work with our employees."

Mr Boyd would not discuss why the tenants had been handed a letter last week saying that Boral proposed to end the rental agreement on August 15, just two weeks after the mill closure, saying it was 'an internal matter'.

The letter, which came from the company's human resources manager, John McAuliffe, said Boral would be vacating the site soon after closing the mill in July, so would not be in a position to continue to rent the houses.

The letter suggested Boral would discuss alternative departure dates if tenants were unable to leave by August 15.

Ms Harton said four families really wanted to stay and would like the option to buy their weatherboard cottages. "I've got nowhere else to go," she said.

Representatives of Boral and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) will meet in Sydney on Thursday.

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