PRINCE ALBERT, SK, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - Wednesday's announced permanent
closure of two forest products manufacturing plants in northeast Saskatchewan
have hit forest-dependent communities hard, say the United Steelworkers (USW).
The giant Weyerhaeuser Corporation announced the permanent closures of
the Hudson Bay plywood plant and Carrot River lumber stud mill, eliminating
183 and 116 direct jobs from rural economies.
In addition to manufacturing job losses, hundreds of logging and hauling
jobs are disappearing as well as spin-off jobs, in commercial and retail
sectors of both communities.
Both mills have not operated since January 2007, when Weyerhaeuser put
them on the auction block.
USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt said the new Saskatchewan
government has taken no action and appears "entirely disinterested" in
protecting forest-dependent communities from "staggering job losses".
"Only days after the November 2007 election Premier Brad Wall pulled the
government out of an agreement with Domtar to help save forest industry jobs
in the province," said Hunt. "Now Weyerhaeuser is permanently pulling the rug
from under Hudson Bay and Carrot River and the government is nowhere to be
USW Local 1-184 President Paul Hallen said the government must amend the
Pasquia/Porcupine Forest Management Agreement, which provides Weyerhaeuser
with access to some 1.8 million hectares of Crown lands.
"Although Weyerhaeuser still operates the OSB 2000 (oriented strandboard)
mill in Hudson Bay, which employs our members, the government must immediately
amend the FMA with the company," said Hallen. "There's no way the province
should allow this company to maintain the status quo with access to the same
level of the public's resources."
Hallen also charged that the new provincial government "does not appear
to be able to apply itself to finding solutions for the Saskatchewan forest
USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters said these latest announcements,
following Weyerhaeuser's announced permanent closure of its Kamloops sawmill
earlier this week, marks another step in the corporation's pull-out from the
Canadian forest industry.
Last year in Saskatchewan, Weyerhaeuser also sold its Prince Albert pulp
mill, Big River sawmill and interests in the Wapawekka sawmill in
Prince Albert to Domtar Inc. Those mills all remain closed.
"It's becoming clearer that Weyerhaeuser executives look at their
North American operations as a chess board from the 30,000 foot level, with
little regard for what's happening on the ground, affecting the well-being of
the workers and communities they operate in," said Matters.
For further information:
For further information: Stephen Hunt, (604) 683-1117 or (604) 816-2554;
Paul Hallen, (306) 763-4922 or (306) 961-0420