Gordon Campbell presiding over destruction of BC forest industry say Steelworkers



    BURNABY, BC, Jan. 17 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers' (USW) Western Canada
Director Stephen Hunt said Thursday that BC Premier Gordon Campbell is
presiding over the destruction of the province's most important employer and
economic engine - the forest industry.
    Campbell, who is to make a keynote address to the Truck Loggers'
Association's 65 Annual Convention on Friday, promised the revitalization of
the BC forest industry at the same convention five years ago. Since then,
permanent closures of wood-processing facilities and woodlands operations have
spun out of control.
    This week another major coastal woodlands contractor, Munns Lumber of
Duncan, declared it could no longer operate on the BC Coast. It was the fourth
major contractor on the Coast within the last year to declare that it could no
longer meet costs.
    "Since Gordon Campbell took power in May 2001, there have been over
20,000 industry jobs lost in the mills and woods, including the permanent
closures of at least 43 wood-processing facilities in province. Another
6 mills are down indefinitely," said Hunt. "The unwritten future legacy of the
Campbell government promises to be the hollowing out and destruction of the BC
forest industry."
    In the same seven-year period, some 30 million cubic meters of raw logs
have been exported from BC, assisting competitors in the U.S. and economic
development in foreign countries.
    "We agree with the TLA that Campbell's forest policies have transferred
too much power to the few major licensees that operate on the BC Coast," said
Hunt. "TLA member companies and USW members have paid a high price for a
distorted market system, uncontrolled log exports, unprecedented wood waste
and high-grading, the loss of cut control and appurtenance provisions, and
uncontrolled tenure transfers.
    "We also agree with the TLA that non-timber values are driving government
policy. Without any public scrutiny, BC Forest Minister Rich Coleman, who is
under investigation by the Auditor-General's office, has allowed the removal
of private lands from tree farm license administration to be used for real
estate development.
    "Unfortunately the destruction of the province's most vital industry has
been portrayed in the mainstream media as a result of the rising Canadian
dollar and low lumber prices. Meanwhile, the premier refuses government
intervention and allows the backbone of many BC communities to be demolished
at the same time as it pockets refunded border taxes from the Harper-Bush
softwood lumber agreement."





For further information:

For further information: Stephen Hunt, (604) 683-1117, or (604)
816-2554


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