Steelworkers say BC Liberals and Interfor have worked 'in synch' to abandon coastal mills, export investment, logs, jobs



    NEW WESTMINSTER, BC, Aug. 27 /CNW/ - Today (Aug. 27) members of the
United Steelworkers (USW) slammed both the Gordon Campbell government and
International Forest Products (Interfor) during a "Grand Closing Event" at the
Interfor Queensboro sawmill and planer site.
    The event, the opposite of a "grand opening", marked the permanent loss
of the operation's 110 family-supporting jobs and over 13,000 forest industry
jobs lost in the last year.
    USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters says that both the government and the
company have worked "in synch to abandon the BC Coastal forest industry."
    Since the Liberals took power in 2001, Interfor has permanently closed
five of its seven coastal mills. Previous mill closures took place in Fort
Langley, Squamish, Courtenay and Coquitlam.
    The closure of Queensboro will further reduce the BC coastal industry's
capacity to process second-growth logs, exactly the kind of processing that's
needed, says Matters.
    Interfor, which in 2003 vowed to work with other corporations (including
TimberWest and Weyerhaeuser) to invest up to a $1-billion over a 10-year
period, has steadily divested on the Coast while retaining its public timber
rights.
    Matters says that the Liberal government, under lobby pressure from
Interfor and others, broke the legislative links between harvesting and
processing, and has eliminated cut-control provisions, while adopting policies
that have spurred log exports to the US Pacific Northwest and Asia.
    The Queensboro sawmill and planer mill equipment, built to specialize in
the manufacture of second-growth gang logs, will be shipped to Interfor sites
in the US or sold to third parties.
    Since 2005, Interfor has invested some $151.8-million in US Pacific
Northwest mills. Shortly before it announced permanent closure of the
Queensboro operation, the company announced the purchase of the Portac Inc.
sawmill and planer on the Olympic Peninsula. It also operates Pacific
Northwest mills in Mollala, Oregon; Port Angeles, Washington and Gilchrist,
Oregon.
    These purchases of US mills have occurred during Interfor's sustained
pullout from coastal British Columbia.
    Matters also slammed both Interfor and the Campbell government for
endorsing the US-Canada softwood lumber agreement, a deal that has erected
export tax barriers and regional quotas on Canadian lumber shipments to the
US, while allowing the tariff-free flow of BC logs to American mills.
    "Interfor does not care about the BC Coast and won't invest here because
it stands on both sides of the border and Gordon Campbell lets the company do
exactly what it wants with timber resources owned by British Columbians," says
Matters. "Interfor can have its cake and can eat it too."

    The USW is Canada's most diverse union with more than 280,000 members in
every sector of the economy.




For further information:

For further information: Bob Matters (604) 683-1117; (604) 996-4476


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