HUDSON BAY, SK, June 26 /CNW/ - With the final day of work fast
approaching for the workers at Weyerhaeuser Corporation's OSB 2000 mill here,
the union (USW) continue to push the company for answers and action.
In a letter to the company, USW Local 1-184 president Paul Hallen notes
that the indefinite closure will have a "devastating effect" on the town of
Hudson Bay, which is home to some 1,500 people.
"The shocking and disappointing issue is that the company has no
foreseeable plans to operate this new state of the art mill in any capacity
whatsoever, currently or in the future," says Hallen in the letter to Phil
Dennet, Vice President Strand Technologies for Weyerhaeuser. "This is not
acceptable to workers or the community, nor should it be acceptable to the
Province of Saskatchewan in order to retain your FMA."
Weyerhaeuser has claimed that market conditions are forcing the
indefinite closure; however, Hallen notes that other, less modern OSB mills
are running and that OSB prices have risen recently and seem to be firming up.
The union says that full closure of the operation risks losing good trades and
production employees that will "add additional challenges to a future start up
of the operation."
"The employee in a small community in northern Saskatchewan goes home to
their family with no job and minimal employment opportunities in the community
and is forced to leave in pursuit of employment; often without their
families... The community is left trying to maintain an infrastructure which
is often dictated by the industry and built up to support the needs of the
industry. People are an important resource to the forest industry and every
effort should be made to sustain the skilled workforce, in turn helping to
sustain the community and the infrastructure..." states Hallen in the letter.
"Market conditions have deteriorated in an industry which has always been
cyclical in nature," added Hallen. "But a closure of this magnitude will take
a further toll on loggers, haulers, various suppliers and businesses that
depend on opportunities and income generated by the forest industry."
The OSB 2000 closure is the seventh instance of either a permanent
closure or an indefinite closure of a Weyerhaeuser or recently former
Weyerhaeuser operation in Saskatchewan since 2001. It is the company's last
operating mill in the province, but will be fully shutdown on July 11.
After July 11 the company will not be operating a single operation in the
province despite retaining its access to crown land.
Earlier this year, the company announced the permanent closure of its
Carrot River sawmill and Hudson Bay plywood plant, following long periods of
indefinite layoffs. In addition, its Big River sawmill was sold to Domtar
along with its giant Prince Albert pulp and paper mill and partnership in the
Wapawekka sawmill, also in Prince Albert.
The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing more than 280,000
men and women working in every sector of the economy.
For further information:
For further information: Paul Hallen, (306) 764-4202 or (306) 961-0420