SYDNEY, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The streets of Melbourne's CBD have been blockaded by 100 log trucks protesting the impending closure of a major sawmill.
The trucks rolled into the CBD in the early hours of Tuesday where they blocked car and bicycle lanes on Spring Street outside the State Parliament.
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) announced in March that the Heyfield timber mill, Australia's largest hardwood mill, would close after the company said a three-year supply deal offered by VicForests would result in losses of 9.2 million U.S. dollars.
The closure would mean 260 employees would lose their jobs, crippling the town of Heyfield, 200 km east of Melbourne, which has a population of 2,000.
Truck driver Adam Lockett said the closure of the mill would have an immeasurable impact on the small town.
"It's only a small town and the mill is the main employment in the town," Lockett told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.
"There's dairying and few other things but if the mill closes and the workers move away that'll be it for the town."
"It'll be a ghost town in three or four months."
The mill processes 150,000 cubic meters of timber per year but the new deal put forward by VicForests offered only half that amount.
Daniel Andrews, Victoria's premier, said the Victorian government would consider buying the mill but ASH rejected the proposal, instead opting to move the mill to Tasmania.
Michael O'Connor, national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), said the Government should be ensuring there was enough timber for the business to survive.
"The bottom line is a sawmill needs saw logs and if we want to maintain the jobs at Heyfield we've got to get enough saw logs to maintain all those jobs," O'Connor said.
"The first thing the Government has to do is make sure we have decent wood supply, sustainable wood supply and a medium to long term supply agreement."
"The Victorian timber industry is an industry that provides jobs in regional communities these jobs are hard to come by these are jobs that we need to protect and support."