Another major Saskatchewan sawmill closing



    MEADOW LAKE, SK, Oct. 31 /CNW/ - NorSask Forest Products Ltd. has
informed the United Steelworkers (USW) that termination notices have been sent
to 62 employees effective December 19, 2008. But USW Local 1-184 President
Paul Hallen says members are left wondering whether the 'terminations' are
temporary or permanent.
    Notices sent to workers say "current economic conditions simply do not
allow us to continue operations at this time."
    They also state: "Lumber prices will recover and at that time NorSask
will start up again and at that time we will contact you in the hope that you
can rejoin NorSask as an employee."
    "This has of course brought very disappointing news to our members, to
Meadow Lake and to outlying communities," said Hallen, adding that the company
is sending mixed messages about the future of the sawmill.
    "Our members in the mill have experienced periodic layoffs over the last
two years as well as permanent job losses and terminations," said Hallen.
"This is another blow to workers, many families and Saskatchewan's forest
industry."
    The mill normally employs about 100 USW members plus salaried staff. In
March the mill reduced its operating capacity to one shift in the sawmill and
planer, working four days per week.
    Hallen said NorSask workers have gone without wage increases for the last
couple of years in hopes of assisting the company keep the mill in operation,
while looking forward to better days in the industry.
    "The company has also been creative in an attempt to have at least some
degree of operating capacity," he said, adding that the mill closing is yet
another blow to the forest industry in Saskatchewan and across the country.
    Hallen said the notices are a further indication of the seriousness of
the forest industry crisis in Saskatchewan and across Canada, damaged further
by the 2006 Harper-Bush softwood lumber agreement and the US housing market
slump.
    "Neither the provincial nor federal governments have shown any interest
in finding meaningful solutions to the on-going disintegration of one of our
province's most vital industries," he said. "Governments have tossed up their
hands and turned their backs. Workers, communities and many Canadian forest
companies continue to pay the price."

    Canada's most diverse union, the USW represents more than 280,000 men and
women working in every sector of the economy.





For further information:

For further information: Paul Hallen, Tel. (306) 764-4202, (306)
961-0420


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