Western Forest Products’ Somass sawmill is shutting down indefinitely.
The mill, which handles western red cedar, has been sputtering for some time — operations have been curtailed since February and only a single shift was operating before that.
United Steelwokers local 1-85 president Norm McLeod said the company has been shifting logs to their Nanaimo and Chemainus mills as part of an anti-Port Alberni bias.
He said the employees at the Somass Mill made the company money by making a top quality product, and he doesn’t understand the closure.
The 75 employees at the mill will be offered voluntary severance and C-E-O Don Demens says any wishing to stay with Western Forest Products will be encouraged to check opportunities at the company’s six other Vancouver Island operations.
Western Forest Products officials have ignored our calls for comment, and in a statement on their website say they’re cutting costs to remain competitive, saying the Port Alberni sawmill has been shuttered because it doesn’t have enough logs to operate efficiently and recent softwood duties applied by the U-S have created uncertainty.
McLeod said Western Forest Products invested very little into their Port Alberni mills, and doesn’t believe the closure has anything to do with the softwood lumber battle.