PM finally awakening to forestry concerns?



    OTTAWA, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - "Prime Minister Harper may finally be
waking up to the crisis in the forestry industry. We certainly hope that
today's news announcing a $1 billion boost for the pulp sector are more than
rumours, but so far, this appears to be no more than a public relations stunt
by the Conservatives," says Dave Coles, President of the Communications,
Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP), Canada's largest forestry union.
    This 1 billion dollar boost for forestry would partly offset the impact
of the 8 billion dollars in black liquor subsidies that the U.S. gives to its
pulp producers. But the proposal is news to the Canadian industry.
    "There have been no indications of any serious government plan that
anyone in the forestry sector is aware of - on the industry or union side",
explains Coles, who has been in touch with a dozen industry CEOs so far.
    The CEP President is encouraged to see that the Conservatives seems to be
willing to finally address the issue of the unfair advantage U.S. pulp mills
have over Canadian mills, but reminds that to keep viable mills open and help
the industry restructure will also require loan guarantees and a serious
proposal to address pensions.
    Last week 4,000 forestry workers from across Canada, from British
Columbia to Newfoundland, noisily marched to the Prime Minister's office with
a symbolic alarm clock to alert Harper to the suffering of forestry
communities. Dave Coles, and the CEP forest leaders met with Finance Minister
Jim Flaherty the same day to underline the urgency of the situation. The
Minister promised to study the union's position, but hasn't been heard from
since.
    There are 300 forestry dependent towns in Canada and 55,000 forestry jobs
have been lost in the past two years.

    The 150,000-member CEP represents more than 60,000 forestry workers,
including 7,500 AbitibiBowater employees. 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, CEP President, (613) 299-5628
(cell)

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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