OTTAWA -- Forestry workers have occupied the offices of four Conservative Cabinet Ministers and three MPs today to drive home their demand for action on Canada’s forest crisis.
Members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada are inside the offices of Jay Hill (Prince George); John Duncan (Vancouver Island North); Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Oshawa); Lawrence Cannon (Pontiac); Josée Verner (Louis-Saint-Laurent); Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Jonquiere-Alma); and Mike Allen (Tobique-Mactaquac).
“The federal government’s aloof attitude toward forest communities borders on contempt,” says CEP President Dave Coles. “In the face of the pain and suffering created by 55,000 job losses in the last two years, the government has done nothing.
“Today we are taking a stand -- we are fighting for the future of our families, our communities and our industry.”
The forestry workers are demanding that the MPs meet with them to discuss CEP’s proposals for solutions to the forest industry crisis, and that they pressure Prime Minister Stephen Harper to meet with a union delegation who will be part of a protest by thousands of forest workers in Ottawa on June 2.
CEP President Coles says his union “will do whatever it takes to get MPs to take this crisis seriously.”
CEP is demanding that the federal government:
•Provide loan guarantees to forest companies facing financial difficulty so that they can keep operating.
•Protect workers’ pensions. The federal government must proclaim into law the part of the protection against creditors’ act (passed by Parliament in Dec. ‘07) that makes paying off workers pensions and wages a priority.
•Level the playing field. Match U.S. tax credits to the industry for the use of alternative fuel -- so that Canadian forest companies can compete fairly.
•Set up a national adjustment fund for workers, their families and communities impacted by mill closures, and income support for older workers.
•Hold a national summit of key stakeholders on the future of the forest industry, that includes employment stabilization and forest regeneration measures.
CEP is one of Canada's largest industrial unions with about 140,000 Canadian members. It is the country's largest union in the forest industry, oil, gas and chemical industries, media and telecommunications.
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