Stop Log Exports; Invest in B.C. - Steelworkers

BURNABY, BC, July 28, 2017 /CNW/ - In the wake of yet another closure of a B.C. sawmill due to lack of logs, the United Steelworkers (USW) is seeking a fresh approach from the new B.C. government.

"Yesterday, British Columbians learned that the inability of sawmills to secure log supply has resulted in a modern-day B.C. ritual: the closure of a sawmill in a forest-dependent community," said Bob Matters, Chair of the USW Wood Council in a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.

B.C. sawmills are closing because of a lack of logs, yet the level of log exports out of B.C. to the U.S. is near historic highs.

Western Forest Products announced on July 27 it is closing the Somass sawmill in Port Alberni, B.C., with no plans to re-open, affecting 77 employees who are members of the United Steelworkers union.

"Sweeping changes to forest management in B.C. by the previous Liberal government continues to harm workers and communities," said Matters. "More than 100 sawmills have closed while raw log exports have skyrocketed."

B.C.'s forest sector employs over 63,000 people, thousands of whom are represented by the USW. On behalf of the union's members and communities, the USW is seeking a meeting with the new NDP government and industry to tackle this urgent issue.

"B.C. manufacturers, sawmills and those who work in the industry need immediate action to prevent sawmills and related companies from shuttering operations in favour of U.S. investments," said Matters.

"With a new government, we are looking forward to a fresh approach and new policies for the forest sector in B.C. The USW is eager to work with the government and industry on solutions that respect workers and support forest-dependent communities," said Matters.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chair, 604-683-1117; Brad West, USW Communications, 604-313-9185, bwest@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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