November was a busy month for FICA as we brought together silviculture contractors and forest management staff to discuss problems facing the industry and how we might begin solving them.
Thanks to the 31 silviculture contractors who took the time to attend the open forum on 14 November in Rotorua. A further 14 staff from forest management companies and two from WINZ/MSD also attended. The meeting was well briefed with two dedicated silviculture contractors providing over 10 pages of written submissions. These documents were introduced during the open forum and were unanimously confirmed as the key problems facing contractors and their employees trying to make their businesses and jobs work. The 3-hour forum resolved to make a formal approach to the Forest Owners Association (FOA) and several key government agencies to find ways to fix the problems our industry is facing. The meeting also chose a group of representatives from FICA to meet with the FOA board.
Following the meeting, two FICA members prepared a formal request and delivered that to the FOA executive council on 22nd November. Following that meeting, FICA received a formal reply that FOA will join a FICA-led “Silviculture Action Group”.
Later this afternoon the FICA board will meet to discuss a proposed plan to set up and resource this group. This proactive approach to recognise what is a large problem in our industry is on a similar scale to the call made by FICA in March 2013 to FOA to formally call an industry safety review after the tragic series of fatal accidents in the preceding 12 months.
FICA’s call and FOA’s response are recognition that far too many silviculture contractors and their workers have been suffering substandard work and pay conditions for a long time. The serious lack of sustainability in the business of silviculture will now be addressed.
While FICA started working on this problem in June, having been made aware of the depth of the problem by some of our members, it has escalated into a social issue concerning our industry’s image and ‘social’ license-to-operate as the media has now become aware of the situation.