Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Gutted" Forest Act Creates Real Problems for BC Woodworkers

September 3, 2008

To the Editor, The News:
So BC labour minister Ian Black thinks that forest companies need to invest in BC (“Labour minister predicts rebound,” --from the News, Sept. 2) What a revelation! Black seems unaware that people across British Columbia have been saying so for years. And he also seems unaware that his own government has failed dismally at getting them to do it.

Why?

His government threw away its powers to regulate the forest industry back in 2004; it gutted the Forest Act, so companies could do pretty much as they please. Over 50 wood processing plants closed permanently after Gordon Campbell was elected Premier; we’ve lost over 23,000 jobs.

Under the Liberal government the value-added sector has degenerated – almost no new jobs created in the sector since 2001 – with overall investment falling by over 30 per cent per year compared to the 1990s. Six big firms invested more in the US 2003-2007 than the entire industry invested in BC. The glaring truth is that there was more growth in employment, fewer plant closures and more investment under the NDP government than under the Campbell Liberals.

Meanwhile companies export millions of cubic metres of logs a year; this is as much due to Campbell’s forest policy and support for the Harper-Bush lumber deal as to the US market slump or high Canadian dollar.

So we have tried Campbell’s “free-market” approach to forest management; it has failed. Isn’t it time for a government that would manage our forests for all British Columbians, not just a few big forest companies?

Kim Pollock, Canadian Research Representative
United Steelworkers

KP/sml
cope 343
our ref: 850 100 Kim Pollock


(District 3, Stephen Hunt, District Director)

United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union300-3920 Norland Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5G 4K7 • 604-683-1117 • 604-688-6416(Fax) • www.usw.ca

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