Logging companies across Vancouver Island should be busy right now but instead, work has been ground to a halt since July 1 when 3,000 forestry workers walked off the job in a strike against Western Forest Products.
“We haven’t turned a wheel since July the 1st so our operation’s been down now four months,” said Bill Nelson, an owner of Holbrook Dyson Logging. “We haven’t been able to pay our guys obviously, we haven’t had any income into the business, zero cash flow and all of our equipment is behind picket lines.”
Huge pieces of logging equipment on a Campbell River trucking company’s lot aren’t selling and Bill Nelson says he’s got machinery just like it, and lots of it, sitting idle in the forest right now.
“You have a new machine worth say $700,000, one or two of those and you’re still making payments over four months but we haven’t done any work, nobody’s moved, nothing’s happened and the people who are supposed to be negotiating aren’t. They need to get back to the table and they need to find a solution to this,” said Nelson.
He says of the 3,000 or so workers on strike, 15,000 work for private contractors like him. And he’s had to lay off two non-union office staff already.
“Two hundred contract companies that are affected by this strike and they all have office staff too and if they all have two there’s 400 more people out of work,” he said.
Nelson says other dealerships are feeling the effects because contractors aren’t buying new pick up trucks and tire repair shops are also a lot quieter now because of the strike.
He doesn’t know how long many of the contractors will be able to stay in business.
“The long term effects on contractors is pretty simple, there’s going to be contractors going under. I mean people should look around. How many businesses do you know that can completely shut down for three months, four months, six months, eight months? That’s just not reasonable.”