Natural Resources Minister snubs workers



    OTTAWA, April 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt has
cancelled a meeting with the president of Canada's largest forest union to
discuss the crisis in the forest industry.
    "The Minister's assistant left a voice mail message saying simply
'something has come up.' Calls to her office to re-schedule have not been
returned."
    "Many thousands of workers have lost their jobs and many more are worried
about their jobs and their pensions," says Dave Coles, president of the
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, noting that his
"members' anxiety level has increased significantly since the world's largest
pulp and paper company filed for bankruptcy last week."
    "Yet the minister responsible for forestry won't even talk about it," he
adds. "She's snubbed us."
    Mr. Coles has scheduled meetings with representatives of all the
political parties to pressure the federal government to provide loan
guarantees to companies facing bankruptcy in order to safeguard jobs and
pensions.
    Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has agreed to meet with Mr. Coles. CEP
Secretary-Treasurer Gaétan Ménard and Mr. Coles are also planning to speak to
the caucuses of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois before Parliament resumes this
week.
    "Our message is clear: We don't want a bailout. We want the government to
guarantee loans at market rates to the industry. Workers need to be assured
that their pensions will be protected and they will have the option of
retiring in dignity."
    In meetings with MPs, Mr. Coles and Mr. Ménard will also raise the issue
of American forest companies gaining billions of dollars in unfair subsidies
by manipulating a tax credit that was designed to promote bio-fuels.

    CEP represents more than 60,000 forestry workers. There are 300,000
direct and indirect jobs in the forest sector and over 300 forest-dependent
communities in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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