VANCOUVER, April 24 /CNW/ - In its usual uninformed and ideologically
driven manner the United Steelworkers continues to propose actions that would
put their entire Wood Council membership out of work. Bob Matters, Chair of
the Steelworkers Wood Council, states: "We're tired of this excuse that the
Canada-US Softwood Lumber Agreement stops us from protecting our industry,
assisting Canadian workers, or improving the quality of our forests." His
statement clearly demonstrates that the USW does not understand the Softwood
Lumber Agreement and the benefits it is providing to the Canadian forest
sector and the workers and communities reliant on the industry.
"In these unprecedented market conditions the Agreement protects Canadian
forestry companies from anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties that
would be in excess of 30 per cent," says Rick Jeffery, President and CEO of
Coast Forest Products Association. "Duties at that level would shut down the
sawmilling business in B.C. and drag the pulp and paper companies,
remanufacturing industry and loggers along with it. It would be catastrophic."
Yet Mr. Matters and his union continue to advocate this approach and
uncooperatively spout NDP anti-business rhetoric and unfounded accusations.
Mr. Matters should have read the Forest Products Association of Canada's full
press release. FPAC calls for urgent action on the black liquor subsidy,
improved wood policies to encourage investment, including modernizing tax
credits for R&D and capital investment, a competitive national rail
transportation system, access to credit and support for the ongoing green
transformation of which the forest sector is a world leader.
Nowhere does FPAC CEO Avrim Lazar call for the abandonment of the
Softwood Lumber Agreement; in fact he underscores the need for action to
ensure the "sustainability of the SLA". The federal and provincial NDP persist
in trying to kill the Softwood Agreement because they are putting politics
ahead of what's best for the workers they claim to represent.
"Our provincial government has been proactive in doing all it can to
assist the forest sector as it battles dismal markets and a global recession,"
says Jeffery. "If the USW wants to engage in constructive dialogue on ways to
help workers through these difficult times it should join the industry and
government in our collective efforts."
"We have actively pushed for better employment insurance assistance and
worked to ensure $129 million of federal and $30 million of provincial money,
dedicated to the Liberal's Community Development Trust, gets spent to assist
B.C. workers and communities."
The industry has also been actively engaging the federal government to
direct the budgeted $1 billion in community assistance funding into
shovel-ready forest management infrastructure projects that can immediately
employ forest workers and improve the productivity and value of our forests
for commercial and carbon management reasons.
The B.C. forest industry works closely with government to help build new
markets, like China, and new products including renewable, clean green power
and bio-fuels. Mr. Matters, on the other hand, is practicing crass politics to
the detriment of his members.
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