Weyerhaeuser mill closure and overnight sell-off of public timber a sellout say Steelworkers



    KAMLOOPS, BC, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) says
Weyerhaeuser's announcement of the permanent closure of a Kamloops sawmill,
which includes the private sell-off of publicly-owned forest tenure,
represents another example of how forest-dependent communities are being sold
out by the BC government.
    Without any public consultation or ongoing commitment to the community
and workers of Kamloops, West Fraser Timber is being allowed to purchase
tenures from Weyerhaeuser and then flip one to Interfor.
    "It is increasingly clear that the government's forest policies are
allowing private corporations to make overnight profits from the sell-off of
our public lands," says USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. "Instead of
encouraging reinvestment in plant and equipment, the government's so-called
forest revitalization reforms have facilitated the abandonment of our
communities and flipping of public lands for quick profits.
    "All British Columbians should note that the right to flip and split
licenses, without ministerial approval, was a gift of the Liberal government."
    The mill's 200 jobs and related spin-off jobs are an essential part of
the Kamloops economy. According to BC Stats the ratio of total employment to
direct forest sector jobs in Kamloops is over 4.2:1. The sawmill also supplies
the Weyerhaeuser Kamloops pulp mill with valuable wood chips.
    USW Local 1-417 president Marty Gibbons said every forest-dependent
community in BC must be wary of the destructive nature of Liberal forest
policy.
    "The government has granted companies private-like property rights over
Crown lands with no benefits for the citizens of BC," said Gibbons. "BC's
rural communities must derive more benefits from our public resources and not
be sold out."
    The Weyerhaeuser Kamloops sawmill closure marks at least the 45th
permanent closure of wood processing operations in BC since the Liberal
government took power in May 2001.





For further information:

For further information: Stephen Hunt, (604) 683-1117, (604) 816-2554;
Marty Gibbons, (250) 554-3167, (250) 319-2844


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