Forestry leadership focuses on sustainability of jobs and environment

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Unifor Forestry Council members, comprised of leaders from forestry locals across the country, gathered in Vancouver on Monday to plan a national forestry campaign that stands up for good jobs, supports communities and defends a sustainable forest sector.

“We learned members across the country are tuned into similar issues and are eager to take action regionally and nationally to promote pride in our sector,” said Yves Guérette, President of Local 299 and Chair of the Forestry Council.

Much of the day’s agenda focused on the many challenges and opportunities in what is a renewable industry that must be an important part of greening Canada’s economy, providing good jobs for generations to come. The Council resolved to make forestry industry and our union’s demands part of the upcoming federal election.

The Council resolved to deepen the union’s involvement on sector working groups and coalitions.

“Forestry has changed a lot in the last twenty years and our members are eager for the union to promote these advances and talk more about how an already-sustainable industry is becoming greener,” said Jerry Dias, National President. “This industry is an important source of jobs for hundreds of communities. Standing up for those jobs and our communities is our main priority.”

Forestry locals in the western region are fighting to protect forestlands against the invasive mountain pine beetle. The beetle has already killed trees across 16 million hectares in British Columbia and is destroying huge areas of Alberta’s boreal forest.

“Inaction on the part of the federal government led to devastation across Jasper National Park and beyond,” said Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director. “We stand to lose thousands more acres, harming habitats, parks and industry unless our government takes immediate action.”

Another issue weighing heavily on members of the Forestry Council is the community division surrounding the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou, Nova Scotia.

“Unifor forestry sector members across Canada stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers at Northern Pulp,” said Lana Payne, Atlantic Regional Director. “The support we’ve had from the Forestry Council and the western wage caucus is a reflection of the solidarity we build in our union. Make no mistake, we are going to do what whatever is needed to save these jobs and also protect the environment.”

Unifor will continue to promote sustainable forestry with new and exciting initiatives in the months to come.