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

Parksville Museum on track to add digital carillon

Plans is to ring it for first time on city’s next birthday

Committee endorses $4.5M Qualicum Beach all-season turf project

Letter of support sought from regional district for grant application

B.C. Greens hurrying to get candidates in place for provincial election

No candidates announced yet in Nanaimo, Nanaimo-North Cowichan or Parksville-Qualicum

RCMP: Trio arrested, firearms seized after report of shots fired in rural Qualicum Beach

Police say search also found evidence of large-scale drug operation

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read