Delta Weyerhaeuser Strike
over Jobs Heats Up
Steelworkers and their supporters gathered in Vancouver on December 7
to rally support for members of Steelworkers Local 1-3567 on strike
against Weyerhaeuser, claiming the firm’s bosses are taking
advantage of new provincial government mill closure laws and reneging
on promises to maintain job development in BC.
have been on strike at Weyco's Northwest Hardwoods mill in Delta, BC
since July, the firm has shifted production to the US Pacific
Northwest and refused to talk.
Director Steve Hunt noted that in spite of promises to invest in BC,
Weyerhaeuser has not delivered. "They said if the Campbell
government changed the Forest Act and timber harvesting regulations,
and if changes were made in their agreement with their employees,
they would invest over a billion dollars here. Well, they got what
they wanted but we're still waiting."
changes to forest
laws and regulations have given companies a free hand to close mills,
contract out and reconfigure their timber-harvesting activities, Hunt
noted. The provincial government has rewritten the province's Forest
Practices Code. Earlier this year, a contract imposed on workers
allowed longer shifts and reduced overtime and travel-time, thereby
making work more dangerous.
making millions in BC but not putting it back to work here by
creating jobs or strengthening our communities," said
Steelworkers-IWA Council president Norm Rivard. "It's time this
company started benefiting its employees, their families and their
communities, not just its owners."
insist there are no
plans to close any further operations here, including the Delta
facility. But strikers warn that the new laws are simply encouraging
forestry firms to continue downsizing.
over BC to let this company know we don't do business this way here,"
says Hunt. In the third-quarter of 2004, Weyerhaeuser profits soared
to a record $594 million, seven times their third-quarter profits
last year, and twice their total 2003 earnings. So far this year the
firm has made over $1.08 billion.
to the B.C.
Federation of Labour's 48th Convention endorsed an emergency
resolution to oppose Weyerhaeuser's implementation of dangerous
shifts, to lobby the government to ensure companies invest in
resource-dependent communities, to oppose raw log exports and to
support the strategic campaign against the company.