Pulp, Paper And Woodworkers Of Canada concerned by Western Forest Products Ltd. announcement of lay-offs at Ladysmith Sawmill and in its mid-island forest operations

    VANCOUVER, Nov. 23 /CNW/ - Western Forest Products has been allowed by
the provincial government to remove more than 28,000 hectares of private land
from its tree-farm licenses on Vancouver Island. There is a very real
probability that these forestlands will be developed and lost to the forest
industry forever. WFP and the government claimed that these TFL deletions (for
which the government has received no compensation) would help forest companies
save jobs by helping them remain viable. The announcement from WFP, which will
result in substantial job losses on Vancouver Island, flies in the face of the
government's stated intentions to protect employment in beleaguered Island
    The PPWC believes that the government has failed workers and communities
by not demanding that forest companies compensate the province for the loss of
this sustainable resource. Funds collected due to TFL changes should be used
to support affected communities. While Forests Minister Rich Coleman refuses
to insist on this, more sawmills close down and raw log exports continue
further jeopardizing these communities.
    Adding insult to injury, he did nothing in his recently announced
"Coastal Forest Action Plan" to address the issue of logs being left in the
woods to rot. Rather than ensuring that logs are turned into value-added
forest products that could lock up carbon for decades, they will be left to
rot or be burned on the ground. That means more CO(2) in the atmosphere, which
further complicates BC's ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions
reduction targets. A recent study by Ben Parfitt of the CCPA, "Wood Waste and
Log Exports on the BC Coast" reveals that in the last two years, about one in
three usable logs were either exported or left on the ground to rot. There
still has been no meaningful consultation with communities and workers, "...so
it is no surprise that there is not much there for us", stated Arnold Bercov,
PPWC National Forestry Officer. "The changes to the log export policy miss the
mark and the other components are little more than a repackaging of the same
ideas we've been hearing for the last few years".
    The PPWC has long argued for a ban on exporting logs from public and
private forest lands on Vancouver Island. The union says linking the new
export tax to softwood lumber going to the US only, ignores the significant
level of log exports to Asia. In addition, the union is also critical of the
extension of the blanket 35% log export exemption for the central and north
coast. The industry keeps saying that these logs are excess and that we have
to export Crown logs from that area because of a lack of local processing
capacity. The reality is that this excess is being created by the continued
closures of sawmills on the coast.
    The PPWC is fundamentally opposed to any changes to the working forest
that does not involve broad public consultation, including affected workers.
Any changes that occur must benefit forest-dependent communities.

For further information:

For further information: Arnold Bercov, (250) 753-8721 or Jim King,
(604) 731-1909

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