BURNABY, BC, April 30 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers (USW)
are back at the BC Legislature this week to lobby MLAs over the serious crisis
in BC's forest industry.
A team of Steelworker lobbyists and activists from around the province
are renewing the lobbying effort they began in March. The group is using the
union's recently-released paper, The Time to Act is Now: Campaign to Restore
the BC Forest Sector, to call on the government and opposition to recognize
the crisis and take immediate action on raw log exports. The union is also
calling for an emergency summit on BC forest policy.
"We want to be sure that our legislators understand the situation that
exists in forest-dependent communities and the impact on workers, their
families and the overall health of those communities," said USW Western Canada
Director Steve Hunt. "We are proposing solutions and asking MLAs to join our
call for a more open debate on our province's resource policy."
The USW paper describes the magnitude of the crisis, including: the
closure of 39 manufacturing facilities since 2001; the loss of nearly
20,000 direct jobs in the industry; the growing uncertainty around the future
of areas affected by mountain pine beetle infestations; chronic
under-investment in segments of the industry such as value-added; and the
severing of any link between timber harvesting and benefits for the
communities where it takes place.
"A case in point is the rampant export of unprocessed logs," Hunt said.
"Local sawmills are complaining about log shortages, while the export of raw
logs has gone up over 1000 per cent over the last decade."
The USW has a strong history of sustained political lobbying involving
union members. Over a 10-year period the union lobbied federal politicians and
ultimately achieved the so-called Westray Bill (C-45), which makes
corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for
putting workers' lives at risk.
The union also conducted a lobby in Victoria last year to urge an
independent safety review of the forest sector. That review is now being
conducted by the Auditor General's office.
For further information:
For further information: Scott Lunny, (604) 329-5308; Kim Pollock, (250)