CEP Calls for Emergency Debate on Forestry

Feb. 21, 2007 - Ontario's largest union of workers in the forestry industry yesterday is calling for an emergency debate in the legislature to deal with the mounting job losses as a result of mill closures and cutbacks.

"We heard today that 400 more jobs in the Thunder Bay area are being chopped because of the indefinite closure of the Fort William mill by Abitibi Consolidated," said Cec Makowski, Ontario Region Vice-President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

"Several hundred more jobs are in jeopardy in Sault Ste. Marie at St. Marys Paper. All of this on top of the thousands of jobs lost in the sector in recent years. If ever there was a crying need for action, this is it," he warned.

"This crisis goes beyond partisan politics. We are calling on all parties in the legislature to immediately support an emergency debate. We see this as the potential beginning of meaningful action to stop the bleeding of jobs in forestry," Makowski added.

At the same time, CEP National President Dave Coles demanded that the federal government convene a summit of all stakeholders in the forestry sector to formulate a national recovery strategy.

"Today, the closure announcement is coming from Ontario but, over the past three years, every part of the country has been hit by this crisis," Coles said. "There are broad issues of trade, monetary policy, research and development, and manpower planning that must be addressed by the federal authorities."

Both union leaders stressed that CEP members, in every instance of mill closure and cutbacks, have tried to negotiate ways of keeping the businesses operating.

"Labor costs are not the culprit," Makowski said. "The industry itself points out that energy and fibre costs, combined with the overvalued Canadian dollar, are at the heart of the crisis."

"And," added Coles, "these issues clearly cannot be solved without government intervention."


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