View from Labour, June 5th, 2009

Last week the Federal Government announced a bail out of GM that equals $1.4 million for each job that may be saved. No guarantees. Much of the largesse is to pay for pension fund deficits. The only difference I can see between the auto workers pensions and the forest workers pensions is the size and the auto worker pension fund is controlled by the Company and they are responsible for it. The Forest Worker fund was set up as a joint fund with the union and doesn't reflect directly on any company. Therefore the Federal Government isn't likely to do anything to assist our jobs or any eventual problems with our pension funds. Our employers in the mills and woods are suffering as much or more than the bloated auto industry, but I don't hear one MP speaking out for us. Definitely no Conservatives are giving us the time of day.
Someone has to wake up both Victoria and Ottawa to the fact that the financial engine for B.C. is in trouble. Mills are closing in B.C. and reopening south of the USA border. Logging crews on Vancouver Island are not working unless they are on Private Lands and the communities that gave B.C. its prosperity are suffering. All the Harper and Campbell Governments can talk about is honouring the Softwood Lumber Deal. That was a complete sellout to forest dependant communities and workers across the country.
One group is trying to bring attention to our problems and that is the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. They are sponsoring full page ads in newspapers with the headline Forestry Workers Fight back. It is a sad day when the only way we can bring attention to the plight of the forest industry is to pay to print the news. They are asking us to go to their web site --- and click on 'Actions" to send e letters to the Government. We should all at least do that.
The paramedics are back at the bargaining table this week. We wish them well.