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Posted: March 29, 2015

Questions need to be answered: mill workers

Letter to the Editor

Canfor says one shift will be eliminated.

“This reduction (from two shifts to one) will affect 81 Canal Flats-based employees, all of whom will be offered positions elsewhere in the company,” said Canfor public affairs director Corinne Stavness.

The reality is one production line at the sawmill; half a shift at the planer. These cuts are closer to 75% in employees. Internal documents say only 55-60 employees will keep their jobs. This means 100 to 110 will be laid off. Those 20 extra employees are upset!

We were promised a hiring freeze during this period of transition. Three weeks after the announcement, many mills had openings on the Canfor website.

“Canfor is actively hiring at our other facilities in B.C. and it is our hope that all 81 Canal Flats employees affected in this shift reduction will accept positions at other Canfor divisions,” Canfor public affairs stated.

The reality is that Canfor privately clarified that the hiring freeze is in effect only at the Elko and Radium mills. The update as of March 16 is only two Canfor mills continue to look for production employees, Vanderhoof and Houston. One mill in Prince George had four openings and now has only one with an inadequate work guarantee of 10 hours a week. Houston is hiring for on call workers with a less than half time guarantee of 16 hours a week.

Timber supply is the official justification for the layoffs.

The reality is the Radium mill started an extra shift after the Canal Flats layoff announcement. Elko is rumoured to have enough extra wood to add another shift soon. The company will make more money with two mills and the same fibre supply than three mills.

The Canal Flats mill made $19 million profit in 2.5 years yet we are being shut down. So is the shutdown due to fibre supply or losing money for the three months before the layoff announcement?

Other questions need to be answered. Why is the same management team being left in place? Why was the Union told that a $1,000 bonus in the 2013 Collective Agreement would not be paid to laid-off employees, then only after pressure from the Union, Canfor agreed to pay but only on a prorated basis? The affected 100 employees did not choose the date of the lay-off!

Canal Flats workers

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