SAGUENAY, Quebec (News release) -- A coalition of unions is denouncing a lack of consideration for crucial issues facing workers as the Quebec government launches regional consultations on the future of the forestry sector.
The consultation process unveiled by the Quebec government is being heavily criticized by a labour coalition representing thousands of forestry workers, including Unifor, the United Steelworkers union (Syndicat des Métallos), the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD) and the Fédération de l'industrie manufacturière (FIM-CSN).
Quebec labour groups offered their collaboration and support last November when Quebec's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests announced wide-ranging consultations on the future of the province's forestry industry and its forests.
However, the government has now unveiled priorities and issues to be addressed during 12 regional consultation roundtables, and they do not include "crucial issues related to forestry workers," the union coalition says.
Forestry workers: essential, yet absent from consultations
Workers must not be left out of the process, the unions say. It is essential that the roundtables allow workers to address the imminent impacts and transition issues that will result from changes in forest-management practices, shrinking forest potential, climate volatility and economic uncertainty.
"We are demanding that the Minister review the list of issues to be addressed in these consultations and ensure that issues affecting forestry workers are given the legitimate attention and consideration they deserve," the labour coalition said in a joint statement released today.
"Quebec needs a global and inclusive vision for its forests and forestry sector, and this must include a recognition of the concerns and the expertise of workers in this sector," the coalition stated. The statement was signed by Unifor Quebec Director Daniel Cloutier, United Steelworkers Quebec Director Dominic Lemieux, CSD President Luc Vachon and FIM-CSN President Louis Bégin.
Consultations must include caribou strategy
The labour leaders also expressed concern that the government's consultation plan does not include a woodland caribou-protection strategy, which also is a key issue affecting the future of Quebec's forests and forestry industry.
"We are calling for an immediate review of the consultation process to ensure forest-sector workers have their rightful place at the heart of these crucial discussions on the future of Quebec's forests," the union leaders stated.