If you’re planning on travelling through the CBD today take note. Up to 40 semi-trailers have converged on Spring Street this morning. The drivers, parked outside State Parliament, have assembled to protest the closure of Gippsland’s Heyfield timber mill.
Although Spring Street remains open, its flow of traffic has been reduced to single lanes north and south. VicRoads is advising commuters to avoid the area where possible. The trucks are expected to remain outside parliament until 1pm.
A protest through the CBD is also planned, beginning at Trades Hall on Lygon Street at 11am. Buses carrying protesters from Heyfield, two and a half hours from Melbourne are arriving, and organisers hope around 1000 people will be there to show support.
On Friday the mill’s owner, Australian Sustainable Hardwood, announced the Gippsland site would close in 2018. The news comes despite a previous commitment from the Andrews government saying it would be “facilitating … the sale of the mill”, or buying it with taxpayer money.
Matt Leplaa, 38, from the Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, has worked in the manufacturing industry since he was 16.
“The media is trying to make out like it’s just the workers in Heyfield who will be affected. In reality, there are around 10,000 jobs that will be impacted,” says Leplaa.
Delays for motorists and public transport are expected to last until after midday and cycle lanes are also being blocked on Spring Street.