West Fraser curtailment to affect 60 jobs at Fraser Lake sawmill

Forestry company West Fraser plans to reduce operations, affecting 60 employees at its Fraser Lake sawmill and 75 employees at its Quesnel site, in early 2019.

In a press release on Nov. 13, the company said the changes involve curtailing about 300 million board feet of lumber production through the cutting of a third shift at both sawmills.

“The Company expects to mitigate the impact on affected employees by offering them work opportunities at other West Fraser operations,” it said.

The curtailment announcement follows what the company said are timber supply shortages as a result of mountain pine beetle infestations across the province.

West Fraser added that it has invested more than $500 million in its British Columbia assets to enhance the competitiveness of its mills to achieve the most value from the available timber.

The changes at Fraser Lake will make it the second mill in the region after Houston to face production curtailments.

Canfor announced earlier in the month that it will curtail its B.C. operations, which affects operating hours at its Houston sawmill.

United Steelworkers Local 1-2017, which represents more than 1,500 forestry workers in the province – including at Houston’s Canfor mill – has been conducting rotating strikes since early October.

The union suspended the strike before mediation with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association which ran Nov.14-15 in Kelowna.