Logging equipment up for auction on Vancouver Island in 2009, the last big downturn in the B.C. coast forest industry. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

Loggers and other forest industry contractors left out of work due to a six-month strike against Western Forest Products have been heard by the B.C. government and efforts continue to help them keep their homes and trucks, Premier John Horgan said Friday.

Contractors converged on the B.C. legislature Wednesday to call for help from the province, as talks with company officials and the United Steelworkers were scheduled to resume this weekend with mediator Vince Ready.

Mayors of northern Vancouver Island communities wrote to Horgan and the parties in the dispute a month ago, reporting that homes were going up for sale and trucks being repossessed as the strike that began July 1 dragged into the fall.

The situation is getting desperate, the workers said at Wednesday’s rally where they called for reduction in stumpage and relief from new waste penalties that some contractors said were making it too costly to operate.

Horgan said Forests Minister Doug Donaldson met with a group of rally organizers, but in an interview with Black Press he was careful not to make promises of assistance.

“Obviously they want the dispute resolved and people back to work, but they also understand that the government is trying to put in place a program that will help them bridge the gap so they’re not seeing their trucks get repossessed,” Horgan said.

“They can’t work, but they can’t collect EI, they can’t find other ways to move forward. In the Interior where we’ve had significant curtailments, contractors are at least able to do brush clearing and the other work that needs to be done, because the industry is still operating. But it’s literally shut down here on the coast.”

RELATED: Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

RELATED: Mosaic Forest Management announces early shutdown

RELATED: Striking Western employees willing to ‘modify position’

Horgan said he met with the CEO of Mosaic Forest Management last week, after Vancouver Island’s other large logging company began its seasonal shutdown early. A partnership of Island Timberlands and Timberwest formed in 2018, Mosaic laid off about 2,000 union and non-union employees as well as coastal contractors Nov. 25.

A Mosaic spokesperson cited “very challenging pricing and market conditions.”

The Steelworkers’ objections include new shift schedules and a drug testing policy. Horgan repeated what he has said numerous times in recent months, that it is not the government’s job to resolve private sector labour disputes.

“But it’s also the government’s responsibility to make sure that the unintended consequences, those innocent victims of the labour dispute, whether they be contractors or small businesses in communities like Port Alberni, Port Hardy and Campbell River are not adversely affected,” Horgan said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New wildfire springs up north of Clinton; lightning suspected as cause

Fire is not a flare-up of blaze that started on Aug. 1 near 51 Mile Creek

Financial assistance available for victims of flooding in TNRD

Government will pay 80% of eligible claims resulting from flood damage

Clinton RCMP looking for Citizens on Patrol program volunteers

Organizer hoping to have enough people to get program started in September

Free online course aims to keep care home residents, staff safe

Course gives basic COVID-19 information and safety procedures for visitors to protect the vulnerable

Flu immunization drop-in clinics not taking place this fall

Interior Health urging people to get flu shots through pharmacies, primary care centres

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Most Read