Forest Workers in Canada Rally to Protect Jobs

May 18, 2009 - Canada`s largest forest union has launched a national campaign demanding that the federal government act now to protect forest jobs and pensions.

Hundreds of forestry workers on Friday (May 15), representing thousands more across the country, demonstrated in front of AbitibiBowater, carrying signs that read: "Forest Workers Fight Back" and "Wake Up Harper!"

"Workers are not responsible for the crisis in the forest industry, but we are the ones facing demands for cuts to our wages and pensions," Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union president Dave Coles told the demonstrators. "It is totally unfair that a company like AbitibiBowater can use bankruptcy protection to avoid paying severance and making payments to the pension plan."

Coles stressed, however, that the main target in the union's campaign is the federal government.

"The Harper government has clearly blown off forest communities. Forestry in Canada is and can be a very profitable industry if it was properly managed. But it is being decimated because of federal government policies that permit unfair competition from the U.S. - such as NAFTA and the Softwood Lumber Agreement. Give us a level playing field and Canadian forest companies would be unbeatable," Coles said.

According to CEP, the union is demanding that the federal government step up to the plate with loan guarantees that will put a stop to permanent mill closures and that it protect jobs and pensions.

The demonstration is the first of many actions that will happen nationally and in forest communities across Canada, over the next few weeks, CEP said.

On June 2, the union is planning a large demonstration in Ottawa as well as actions in forest communities across the country.

SOURCE: Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union

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