OTTAWA, June 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's largest forest union says the
government's announcement of $1 Billion for environmental improvements in the
pulp and paper industry changes nothing for forest workers.
"It won't save any mills or prevent further job loss," says CEP President
Dave Coles, noting that already 55,000 jobs have been lost in the industry
over the last two years. "This money cannot be used to lower the price of the
production of pulp, and make our industry more competitive with the U.S.
"In the short term, mills will still close because in order to take
advantage of the subsidy, they must invest in capital," he says.
"This is cold comfort to our members whose employers are on the verge of
bankruptcy and who were hoping for some reassurance from the federal
government about the security of their pensions."
CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaétan Ménard says what the industry needs are
loan guarantees to keep viable mills open and help the industry restructure
and a serious proposal to address the pensions issue.
"The urgency of the situation demands much more from the federal
government," says Ménard.
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 CEP forestry 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.
There are 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in the forest sector.
For further information:
For further information: Dave Coles, CEP President, (613) 299-5628;
Gaétan Ménard, CEP Secretary Treasurer, (819) 775-6980