BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) president and CEO Linda Coady is calling for an end to the job action at B.C. ports that started July 1.
“The BC Council of Forest Industries calls for all parties – employers, unions, and the provincial and federal governments – to come together urgently to resolve the labour dispute at Canada’s west coast ports. Forest products are a major export for British Columbia, with about $15 billion worth of forest products exported annually, representing about one-quarter of merchandise exports from B.C. In fact, in 2022, forest products represented about 15 per cent of all the cargo flowing through the Port of Vancouver,” Coady said.
Some 7,400 port workers – all members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have been on strike since the Canada Day weekend. Contract talks between the union and the BC Maritime Employers Association broke down on July 3.
“The shutdown of our ports landlocks our products and prevents them from getting to market, especially overseas. Asia is a growing market for B.C.’s high quality forest products and is critically important for British Columbia as we strive to reduce our reliance on the United States due to the ongoing softwood lumber dispute,” Coady added.
“We are already feeling the impacts of this one-week dispute. Forestry operates in a globally competitive marketplace and requires dependable transportation routes to deliver our products. A prolonged dispute will erode market confidence and more importantly, directly impact our operations, our employees, and forestry-dependent communities around the province.”
British Columbia’s forest products exports are worth about $15 billion annually, with forest products making up 23 per cent of merchandise exports from B.C.
In a statement, COFI said the forest industry is foundational to regional economies, communities and jobs across B.C., contributing $13 billion to the province’s GDP annually and paying $8 billion in wages, salaries and benefits. The association added that close to 120 Indigenous Nations or affiliated organizations are active participants in B.C.’s forest industry, which generates $4 billion in government revenue to support health, education and more.
Click here for COFI’s full statement.
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