Vanderhoof BC – The Northern Skills Training pilot is a 2.9 million dollar pilot project awarded to the United Steelworkers Union local 1-424 in November 2011, with funding provided through the Canada –British Columbia Labour Market Agreement and administered by the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation. Boundaries for the pilot extend from the BC communities of 100 Mile House north to Fort St John and west to Smithers. Objectives of the pilot are to provide Essential Skills Training and up-skilling to USW members in the forestry and mining sectors.
All the NST Pilot’s support services are now in place for Vanderhoof, Fort St James and Fraser Lake and are ready to accept eligible clients said Terry Tate, NST/USW local coordinator. The sub-contractor for USW operations in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St James is Progressive Employment Services in Vanderhoof who also has a satellite office in Fort St James to serve close to 700 USW members that reside in these areas.
For further information
The Government Services Employees Union presented a cheque for $10,000 dollars to USW Union Chairperson Sam Tom to help USW members affected by the disaster at Babine Mill in Burns Lake. The support we are receiving from our Union Brothers and Sisters has been overwhelming "Said Frank Everitt President, we can't say enough to all those helping and offering support, the road ahead will be difficult for all those effected and this support is critical for both short and long term.
From left to right: Frank Everitt, Kris Graneau BCGEU Forest Service Chairperson and Burns Lake Firefighter, USW Chairperson Sam Tom, Bruce Disher, Gerald Whitford
The forest industry has been hit with many severe blows over the past couple of years, but no hit has been harder than the recent explosive destruction of the Babine Forest Products plant in Burns Lake.
The people of Burns Lake are not only dealing with the loss of the community’s largest employer, but with the physical, mental, and spiritual scars of the violent destruction of their mill. Workers and the community are also dealing with the tragic loss of two deeply loved community members and fellow employees.
For those of us who work in the sawmill industry the tragedy in Burns Lake hits close to home. We work in plants that have similar hazards. All of us have families that love us and care about us, and sometimes we take it for granted that we have very dangerous jobs. This tragedy could have happened anywhere. All one has to do is to look around the plant that they work at and imagine this tragedy occurring where they work. To see co-workers injured, to see the place that you have been employed at for years suddenly blow up, and to lose coworkers is hard to fathom.
We sometimes get set in our ways working in a sawmill, and we tend to forget that life isn’t our place of employment and what occurs there. Life is our families at home, those who love us, and those who count on us. At the end of the day we all want to get home safe and sound.
The focus of this tragedy should be on the people who lost their loved ones, those who have been injured, and the community of Burns Lake. As union members we should be willing to step up and help out our fellow workers who are hurting and struggling to make sense of all of this.
As you go about your day I hope that you take a moment to pause and consider the families of those who have passed away and those who have been injured and lost their place of employment in Burns Lake. If you are so inclined, pray that their physical, mental, and spiritual scars will be healed, and that they will know the comfort of the love of God at this terrible time.
Please consider donating to the workers and their families who are affected by this tragedy and help support fellow members who are suffering deeply at this time of loss.
Conifex, Fort St. James
WorkSafeBC and our staff across the province want to express our sincere condolences to everyone in Burns Lake regarding the recent tragic accident at the Babine Forest Products Mill on January 20th.
WorkSafeBC investigations staff are currently conducting interviews in Burns Lake regarding the accident and ask that anyone having information that may help the investigation to contact WorkSafeBC Investigations between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays at 1-888-621-7233 to arrange an interview.
In addition, WorkSafeBC has a case management team in place to support injured workers and their families during the acute injury and rehabilitation phase.
To help answer your questions, including who the members of your care team are, what benefits you're entitled to, and rehabilitation and other service offerings, please contact WorkSafeBC's case management team at 1-800-663-6623.
Finally, if you believe you have experienced a workplace injury relating to the recent event and have not yet registered a claim, please contact our Teleclaim Centre to register your claim with a WorkSafeBC staff member at 1 888 WORKERS (967-5377) or #5377 on the Telus, Rogers and Bell mobile networks.
» click to view the letter (PDF format)
To the Editor:
On behalf of tens of thousands of Steelworker members in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, I extend our deepest sympathy for the horrific circumstances that have been thrust upon our members, their families and their communities as a result of the explosion at the Babine Forest Products sawmill. We offer heartfelt condolences to the families who may have lost loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the workers who have been injured; we wish all of them a full and speedy recovery.
Our Union's deeply imbedded history in health and safety stems from the ever present danger that is inherent in many of our workplaces. We strive to make them safe so that workers can return home to their families in the same condition as when they left them. When disaster strikes, as it did on Friday, the ripples it spreads reach far and wide. It leaves children and families shattered, workplaces broken and communities devastated. Once the workers have been tended to and their families supported, we urge the government to ensure that the mill is rebuilt and re-opened.
In Northern Ontario we have witnessed the devastation of far too many small communities when the main employer shuts down. All too often in those communities it has been the forestry industry that has left workers and communities behind as the raw logs that use to be milled here are shipped to other countries to be milled and finished. The workers and the Burns Lake community deserve as much as possible to have the pieces of their lives put back together; this means that a mill needs to be re-raised out of the ashes that now smoulder amongst the rubble of the mill.
Unfortunately disasters are not always avoidable. What a government does in the face of it however, is completely in its hands. We are hopeful that in the near future we will see a comprehensive plan that responds to both the immediate needs of these workers and the future needs of this community; one that has a new state of the art mill as part of the Burns Lake landscape. Anything less will be a poor response to the devastation caused by this horrific explosion.
Director, District 6, United Steelworkers
» click to view the letter (PDF format)
Update on our USW Brothers and Sisters in Burns Lake.
Prince George – USW local 1-424 has put out the call to all USW local Union operations to make a donation through payroll deduction to assist members and families affected by the explosion and fire at Babine Forest products in Burns Lake BC.
The results of this disaster have shocked everyone in our Union across the Country. The local officers have put together a local team in cooperation with the USW Emergency Response Team members from the International office. Wherever our injured members are sent a USW area Representative will be visiting the member and family to render any support services needed said Frank Everitt President USW local 1-424, this is an unprecedented disaster in our Industry which will require both a short-term and long-term plan towards assistance for those affected. At this time the focus of our efforts are the most emerging needs of our members and families; however we have to also direct our attention to the weeks and months ahead regarding temporary employment opportunities, health care benefits, employment Insurance and long term support for services and counselling that we know will be needed” it will be a long and painful road ahead added Frank Everitt” we have to be persistent in our efforts to lessen the burden on our members their family and community.
For further information,
Frank Everitt President cell 1-250-960-9809
Brian O’Rourke Financial Secretary cell 1-250-960-8583
The B.C. government has formed a partnership with the United Steelworkers Union (USW) to pilot new skills training for its members in the north, with a focus in the areas of forestry and mining.
Effect September 1, 2009, the PG Regional Hospital will not be billing us for our member's television services. Therefore, any Member being admitted to the hospital will need to pay the daily rental charges at the time of hook-up and submit the receipt(s) that they are given at the time of payment to the Steelworkers for reimbursement.