Skeena Sawmills workers set to have union representation

WORKERS AT any revamped Skeena Sawmills operation will be represented by the Steelworkers union, says one of its business agents.

WORKERS AT any revamped Skeena Sawmills operation will be represented by the Steelworkers union, says one of its business agents.

Rick Nelson from the Steelworkers union said ROC Holdings Ltd. has already told the union it recognizes it

as the workers’ representative.

Successorship rights exist because two years has yet to pass since there was any work done at the site, he added.

“The last activity there, in Oct. 2009, was making chips for Eurocan,” said Nelson.

That activity ended when West Fraser, which is selling Skeena Sawmills to ROC, announced the closure of its Eurocan pulp and paper mill in Kitimat.

But West Fraser never did announce a permanent closure, meaning its collective agreement with the Steelworkers survived.

Nelson said approximately 15 Steelworkers remain on the seniority list and can be called back to work.

Nearly 18 workers were severed several years ago when the sawmill portion of the mill was closed in 2007.

Nelson described as good news the prospect of Skeena Sawmills re-opening on a staged plan of  gradually increasing activity on the site.

“We’ve had a preliminary discussion with them. They want to start off by debarking, making chips,” said Nelson.

An initial 40-person work force would increase as the mill began cutting lumber for the Chinese market.

The sale by West Fraser to ROC Holdings is conditional upon a series of events,

including an environmental assessment of the location on Hwy16 between Terrace and Kitsumkalum.