LETTER: High wages cannot sustain sawmills, says writer

The recent protest meeting about the future of the Somass sawmill was a huge waste of time…

To the Editor,

The recent protest meeting about the future of the Somass sawmill was a huge waste of time and did not prove anything, mainly because of ignoring the facts and reality on the subject.

Canada is No. 1 in the world in exporting lumber, but over the years, competition has set in. In order of importance next to Canada being No. 1, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Austria, and Chile, have come on board in the exercise of lumber exports.

With all of these countries now in the field of exporting lumber, facts and reality set in on the future of the Somass Mill. If the mill is to re-open, and to stay open, the No. 1 important factor is that the hourly rates of pay for the various jobs in the mill have to be lowered. At the current rates of pay, why would a future owner, or the current owner, employ everyone back to their jobs, producing lumber that will just sit in the yard without being sold to a market because the cost to produce this lumber was too high and has to be considered in the selling price of the lumber?

If the mill does re-open in the future, wages have to be lowered and wage rate raises have to be eliminated from the current yearly increases. A steady job with a lower rate of pay should be excellent to keep the workers happy.

An example to explain this is when I purchased my first house in 1974. The asking price of the house was $47,750. My offer was $47,000 The real estate agent said that the offer was refused by the owners. I said fine, am no longer interested as there are many other houses to look at. Later on the same day, the real estate called me and said that the house is mine. I asked what happened and he said half a loaf is better than no loaf. He took $750 out of his commission to cover the difference.

To all of the workers that lost their jobs at the Somass Mill, have a meeting with Western Forest Products about considering that the workers will work for a lower wage and this wage would be in effect for three years with no yearly wage increases. Also if Western is planning on selling the mill to other investors, this wage option should be mentioned to potential new owners.

Leave your union out of this decision making, but you will still maintain your membership in the union.

Why? If you look at the history over the years of your union, you have missed many paycheques because of their decision making while your union reps never missed a paycheque. In summary, think positive, half a loaf is better than no loaf. Your union on the other hand, have to realize that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Joe Sawchuk,

Duncan

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