ONE week without any drama. Is that really too much to ask? If events of the last seven or so days are anything to go by, it seems you'd have more luck finding Lord Lucan than enjoying a period of calm in forestry.

This time it's a drastic (and controversial) change to the payment terms of one of the sector's major contractors that has so many up in arms.

Tilhill has confirmed it will bring its system in line with that of parent company BSW Group from August, meaning invoices filed on the first of that month won't be paid until October 5. Currently, contractors are paid on a fortnightly, self-billing basis.

READ MORE: Tilhill defends change to forestry contractors' payment terms

The reaction has been striking. The Forestry Contracting Association (FCA) has branded the move as "cruel", with officials saying it "effectively sticks two fingers up" at workers.

But Tilhill has defended the change, arguing that its "payment system remains one of the most reliable and stable in the forest industry".

An FCA spokesperson said: "We are being told by some members who contract for Tilhill that they just can't see how they can carry on, the change couldn't really come at a worse time.

"This industry has been and is now addicted to low contracting rates. Unfortunately, many companies rely on low contracting rates to help them make their margins. If they are struggling, they always return to the contractors and push the rates down further."

Several days on from Forestry Journal covering the story, it remains one of the most-read articles on our site. That's before we even get to the ongoing social media response, much of which we couldn't print (not without getting the lawyers involved).

Tilhill, for its part, said: "Tilhill values the contribution our contractors bring to our business. Our payment system remains one of the most reliable and stable in the forest industry. Our standard terms are also robust and are proven favourable within the industry."

That may well be the case but, with the cost of living continuing to hit home and the changes taking place right before energy bills soar again - when the price cap rises in October - it's not hard to imagine the stress this will place on contractors already struggling to make ends meet.

This piece is an extract from today’s Forestry Latest News newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Friday with a round-up of the week's top features. 

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