Victoria: The unwillingness of the NDP to intervene in the near six-month strike between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers is causing further economic suffering throughout forestry-dependent coastal communities, as workers desperate to get back to work continue to plead for action from John Horgan and the NDP.
“The government has options that could end this strike and get 3,000 forestry workers and contractors back to work right away,” said MLA John Rustad, the BC Liberal forestry critic. “It’s been over a year since the NDP introduced its failed Coast Forest Sector Revitalization program and yesterday’s flip-flop by Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson confirms there was no economic analysis done in the first place and it’s forestry workers that are left paying the price. In the midst of a crisis, this government continues to make things up as it goes along, and it’s led to the dire situation that workers and contractors on Vancouver Island are now facing.”
Following angry meetings with out-of-work forest workers in Port Hardy and Port McNeill yesterday, North Island MLA Claire Trevena and Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson offered nothing and only created more market uncertainty in the industry by announcing a temporary retreat from recently announced policies that will continue to drive up costs and make the B.C. forest industry even less competitive.
“The pattern of failure that has led to a crisis in the interior’s forest industry is being repeated once again here on the coast,” concluded Rustad. “The fact the NDP is pulling back from all of its policies aimed at restricting raw log exports and weighing down the industry with all sorts of new fees and penalties only demonstrates that they were wrong-headed in the first place. Last weekend Premier Horgan publically predicted an end to the strike at Western Forest Products and this week the labour minister confirmed the NDP won’t lift a finger to help forest workers. This is a complete gong show.”