5,000 forestry workers now off the job

Friday 29 Nov 2019

Vancouver Island’s forest industry has effectively been shut down with news this week that Mosaic Forest Management has curtailed harvesting operations. The company, which manages the forests for TimberWest and Island Timberlands, said as many as 2,000 forest contractors have been idled weeks earlier than usual due to market conditions.

“We are currently experiencing very challenging pricing and market conditions. As a result, we are shutting down earlier ahead of a usual winter shutdown,” said Pam Agnew, Mosaic’s communications manager. “We are monitoring the situation closely and look forward to restarting production when the market outlook improves.”

The winter shutdown happens every year, though generally it doesn’t come for another few weeks. This year the shutdown started Nov. 25, which means some contractors will have wrapped up their work by the end of this week. Others may take another week or so.

Contractors involved in the planning and silviculture side of the operations may continue working. “We are working with our customers and contractors to manage through this challenging time. We will monitor the situation very closely,” said Agnew.

With Mosaic’s curtailment there are now 5,000 forestry workers out of work on the coast. Nearly 3,000 Western Forest Products employees and contracted workers at six Island manufacturing plants and timberlands around the coast have been on strike since July 1.

Mediated talks between the United Steelworkers Union and Western broke off Nov. 18. The union said it has requested that Western return to the bargaining table. No schedule of new talks has been announced.

Source: timescolonist.com

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