Communities and Workers left out of the mix
BURNABY, BC, Oct. 30 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) says it's not
surprised that there is little hope for workers and communities in the BC
government's New Coastal Action Plan.
"No one asked communities and workers for input so there is no surprise
that there is not much there for us," said USW Western Canadian Director Steve
Hunt. "Of course, we always welcome new money for silviculture and research,
but the changes to log export policy miss the mark and the other components
are little more than a repackaging of the same ideas we've been hearing for
the last few years."
"And, while Minister Coleman dithered, dozens of mills closed down and
raw log exports have sky-rocketed."
The USW has argued for a log export equivalency tax equal to the
difference in the export price and the domestic price for logs. The union says
tying the new fee to the US softwood lumber tax ignores the significant level
of log exports going to China, Japan and Korea. In addition, the "plan"
ignores the bulk of the problem by ignoring the demand from the union and
coastal communities for the province to work with the federal government to
curb log exports off private forest lands on Vancouver Island.
The union is also critical of the extension of the blanket 35-per-cent
log export exemption for the central and north coast.
"It is mean-spirited to announce that we have to export Crown logs from
that area because of a lack of local processing capacity mere days after it
was announced the last central coast sawmill is closing," said USW Wood
Council Chair Bob Matters.
The USW is not opposed to changing tenures, but the process to do so must
involve broader public consultation not just input from licencees. In
addition, making new, smaller tenures available is a positive move. However,
the overall benefits will be limited as value-added companies cannot hold
tenures without being penalized under the US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.
"As always with this government, the task of ensuring jobs and community
sustainability are left to the big companies, who have repeatedly proven that
they are not up to the task," said Hunt.
For further information:
For further information: Steve Hunt, Bob Matters, (604) 683-1117