CHH facility manager David Miller (left) congratulates Les Johnston on retirement.
CHH facility manager David Miller (left) congratulates Les Johnston on retirement. Contributed

Les leaves CHH after 26 years

THE factory floor at Gympie’s Carter Holt Harvey plant is a bit quieter now that veteran fitter machinist Les Johnston has left the place.

The modest Scotsman will be missed by his engineering colleagues who described him as a true gentleman who never drank or smoked.

He was, however, “addicted to tools”, maintenance supervisor Matt Vickery said. He worked with Mr Johnston for just three of his 26 years and reckons the old Scot had at least 10 versions of every tool in his locker.

Mr Johnston freely admits he would spend $1000 on tools every year, but that will come in handy now he has left full-time employment and can play around in his own tool shed.

Mr Johnston hasn’t quite decided how he will spend his retirement, but he hasn’t given away all paid work, taking on a casual role at VVA Engineering in the meantime, and CHH will have him back on the job for another project in September.

Mr Johnston came to Australia in 1977, first working in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria and moving to Gympie when his mother Mina Johnston passed away. She was well known in the Gympie CWA circles, and his father William was a council employee. Younger brother Hugh is a piper with the Caledonian Pipe Band.

When Mr Johnston started at the Gympie factory, it had just been bought from Woodlands by CSR. The operation was taken over by CHH late in 2004.

Mr Johnston was originally hired to maintain the mobile equipment, and when he retired he was working 48-hour weeks on 12-hour shifts.

He reckons he never pushed himself to move into management because he “knew his limits” and he is still a good fitter.

“I just got old,” the 65-year-old said. “My hips and knees couldn’t handle the concrete and climbing.”

Mr Johnston was presented with a watch at his 25th anniversary at the factory last year. up.

Gympie Times


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