Catalyst Paper Excellence lays off Crofton mill workers as orders and wood chips drop

WatchSeventy more workers are being laid off in the Island's forest industry. As Skye Ryan reports, Crofton's Catalyst Paper Excellence mill is shutting down part of its operations for two weeks or more effective tomorrow, due to a decline in orders and lack of wood chips.

Word travelled fast on the streets of Crofton Wednesday that Catalyst Paper Excellence was laying off 70 workers at the local mill.

“It affects every business in the area,” said Crofton Foods’ Susan Barlow.

Crofton Foods is one of many now bracing for fewer customers through its doors.

“It would have a very significant impact on this particular business,” said Barlow.

A downturn in newspaper demand, a growing trade war with China and now a wood chip shortage from the Western Forest Products Strike all are being blamed for the need to shut down part of the operation for two weeks and maybe more.

“It’s minimum two weeks it looks like,” said Unifor’s Crofton mill President Travis Gregson.

“It’s EI or it’s no money. And it’s difficult you know it truly is.”

Gregson suspected this is the first real fallout of the Western Forest Products strike.

“They say a lot of this isn’t to do with the Western strike,” Gregson said.

“I believe a good portion of it is with lack of chips.”

A drive by the mill Wednesday showed the wood chip supply that feeds the mill is down to the lowest levels locals say they’ve ever seen.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” said Salt Spring Island resident Jay Small.

“But I was amazed how small it was.”

By the appearances of strike lines outside Western Forest Products mills in Chemainus and in Ladysmith, the three-month long WFP strike won’t be ending anytime soon.

Winterized structures have now been brought out for striking workers.

“No there’s no progress,” said striking worker Bob Berry outside the Chemainus mill.

“The company’s hunkered in just as hard as we are.”

Striking workers will protest outside Western Forest Products offices in Campbell River Thursday.

Catalyst Paper Excellence did not return our calls for comment.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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