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

Another snowstorm expected for Terrace and Kitimat area

Wind is expected up to 80 km per hour

COLUMN | New year, new you: Make those changes stick

Wellness Matters by columnist Joelle McKiernan

Pilot project thins out overgrown forest location

Immediate and long term logging and environmental benefits eyed

Terrace woman found not criminally responsible in mother’s murder

RCMP were called to a townhouse on Scott Ave. on Aug. 2, 2018, following two stabbings

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Most Read