Demonstration in front of the Kruger Building at Laval University in Quebec City - Chibougamau demands a firm commitment from the Charest government

    MONTREAL, Feb. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The people of Chibougamau are currently
demonstrating in front of the Kruger Building at Laval University in Quebec
City. They are demanding that the government intervene in order to save the
town's two sawmills, including Chantier Chibougamau, which provides employment
for many of the town's 7,500 residents. "The Charest government had assured us
that we would have access to a supply of 200,000 cubic metres of wood within
the Parc de Chibougamau, following the closure of the Abitibi-Bowater mill,"
union spokesman Stéphane Desgagné and Bruno Marceau, president of United
Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ) local 8644 at Chantier Chibougamau,
said in a statement. "By giving in to pressure, the government risks
shattering a community, causing the loss of well-paying union jobs, and
penalizing a business that has taken environmentally conscious steps by making
the recovery of wood material a priority."
    Marceau notes, "Meanwhile, this same government is holding up the company
as a model for the rest of Quebec's forestry industry to follow. In the rest
of the province, there is one job for every 3,500 cubic metres of wood. At
Chantier Chibougamau, there is one job for every 1,000 cubic metres. The
company has had remarkable success in secondary and tertiary processing -
notably with the manufacture of wooden girders. But apparently that's not good
enough. The government has so far refused to act in order to ensure the
viability of the mills in Chibougamau. It makes no sense."

    We want fairness

    Marceau adds that the people of Chibougamau are simply seeking the same
treatment as those in other regions of Quebec. He says, "We want the
maintenance of our contract for supply and forest management (CAAF), so that
the people of our region can earn a living. It is important to understand that
in Chibougamau we face unique challenges that other forestry companies do not
have to deal with. For instance, our harvests are limited by trapping areas,
our timber is located at a distance from the mill, and we pay more for our
CAAF. The Government of Quebec negotiated a new agreement with the Cree,
nation to nation. We understand that. But we believe that the constraints we
face should be shared by the forestry industry and Quebecers as a whole. The
people of Chibougamau should not have to bear the brunt all by themselves."
    The Kruger Building is located at 2,425 rue de la Terrasse, in Quebec

For further information:

For further information: Stéphane Desgagné, United Steelworkers/Syndicat
des Métallos (FTQ), (418) 699-0171, (418) 719-7799 (cell); Bruno Marceau,
United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ), (418) 748-3223, (418) 770-
9560 (cell)

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