Steelworkers find BC politicians unaware of extent of Forest Industry crisis: Ministers ask laid-off workers for solutions

    VICTORIA, March 13 /CNW/ - This week a group of rank and file forest
workers knocked on the doors of provincial politicians to demand immediate
government action on the large scale social and economic crisis that has
gripped the BC Forest Industry.
    Workers met with BC Cabinet Ministers, some of whom seemed unaware of the
extent of the crisis, despite over 10,000 jobs being lost in the last year
alone and 20,000 jobs since 2001.
    Instead, government ministers and MLAs asked the workers for their
solutions to industry problems.
    "We found it astounding that our elected officials have no answers and
are asking our unemployed members for solutions when we were in the
legislative buildings trying to find out what they are doing are going to do
to assist the industry, workers and communities," said Leslie McNabb, a log
scaler from Black Creek on Vancouver Island.
    Lobbyist Kalev Uustal, from the permanently closed Canfor Panel and Fibre
plant in New Westminster, said, "Neither Premier Campbell nor his office would
take even five minutes to meet with us. Mr. Campbell does not understand how
much workers and communities are suffering."
    Steelworkers said that, in a meeting with New Democratic Party MLAs, the
opposition seems more aware of the nature of the problem and offered some
concrete solutions which, if implemented, could get some mills operating or
give communities and workers some hope.
    "We are deeply concerned for the future of our industry, our communities
and our jobs," said USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. "We need to stop
the bleeding now but the government shares no such sense of urgency."
    Hunt said that the union will soon launch a major campaign aimed at
raising awareness of issues in the forest sector and to convince the
government to act.

For further information:

For further information: Leslie McNabb, (250) 334-7060; Norman Garcia,
(604) 683-1117

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