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.

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

Just Posted

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Six boat wrecks wash up on Cadboro Bay beaches over the weekend

Dead Boat Society working with Oak Bay, Saanich to clear derelict boats

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read