Harper playing politics on backs of laid off workers

    OTTAWA, Jan. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - "Prime Minister Harper is playing politics
on the backs of laid-off forestry workers and their families," says Dave
Coles, president of the Canada's largest forestry union, the Communications,
Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.
    "There is nothing in today's announcement for forestry workers," he adds.
"There is nothing that even acknowledges the crisis in the forest sector. This
is simply an attempt to blackmail the other political parties into voting for
the budget.
    "We are very disappointed, but not surprised, that the Prime Minister
Harper has shown absolutely no foresight or vision for rural Canada," says
Mr. Coles, noting that forestry could be one of the largest job-creation
industries in the country if it was managed properly."
    "Today's announcement doesn't even put a stitch in the wound of an
industry that is bleeding jobs."
    "We need a national strategy for forestry that will help workers,
industry and communities rejuvenate the sector through creation of value-added
jobs from the resource," he adds. "Clearly governments should invest in the
development of new and innovative products."
    "We need a national summit of all stakeholders in the industry," says Mr.
Coles, noting that he is already in discussions with some company presidents
on this and other renewal initiatives.
    "We have asked repeatedly for meetings with politicians of all stripes -
we even went to their house -- the House of Commons -- and invited them to
come and talk to our forestry symposium a year ago. But our calls for a
thoughtful approach to the crisis have been largely ignored."
    Among the specific measures that CEP has called for are joint union,
management and government task forces on the future of mills.
    CEP is also looking at calling the companies back to the bargaining table
a year earlier than scheduled in response to the crisis in the forest sector.

For further information:

For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628; Michelle Walsh,
Communications Director, (613) 230-5800, ext. 222, (613) 858-9144

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Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

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