HALIFAX – Unifor members at Northern Pulp are devastated following the announcement by Premier Stephen McNeil that he will not allow enough time for the company to complete the regulatory assessment requested by his own government.
“In all my years of doing this work I have never seen an elected official gut a rural industry, casting tens of thousands into unemployment and financial uncertainty, for the sake of a regulatory timeline,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “This is a horrible outcome for our members at Northern Pulp, for thousands of workers connected to the forestry sector and a shameful mark on the McNeil government.”
More than a thousand forestry workers, landowners and contractors and 350 forestry trucks gathered in Halifax on Thursday to share a united message of support for an extension to the Boat Harbour Act, to give time for the additional environmental evaluation to proceed.
“McNeil’s decision is heartbreaking for so many workers who were committed to finding a path forward that would benefit the entire community,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic regional director. “The forestry sector across rural Nova Scotia feels abandoned by their premier today and they are facing painful times following the closure of Northern Pulp next month.”
Unifor encourages members and forestry workers to come together to support each other in this difficult time. Unifor continues to work with the company to support workers at the mill through counseling supports and encouragement to use resources provided by the Employee and Family Assistance Program.
“I’m at a loss for words, quite frankly,” said Don McKenzie, president of Unifor Local 440. “If Nova Scotia had given the company a clear path to success, I’m sure we could have done it in the time given. But this Class 1 Assessment has turned into a process none of us at the mill expected. Right now, I’m just concerned about my members and their families. It’s going to be a very difficult Christmas across rural Nova Scotia.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 230 at Northern Pulp and more than 23,000 in the forestry sector nationwide. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.