A year
of living

....British Columbia has gone through some very turbulent times this past year. And sharing those difficult months have been all the people of the forest indus-try, labor, management, and govern-ment. It has certainly pointed out to everyone in this province – if they didn't

believe it before – the vital part the trees of our forests around us play in our daily lives.
....When a natural resource such as for-ests takes on half the economy of a given region a good many recipients of the benefits of that resource better make it their business to see that things bide well for their bread-winner.
....In this past year B.C. has seen the following events deal heavy blows to our green gold. The hammer was felt less in the Interior of the province than on the coast, but felt it was – everywhere.
....Falling lumber markets and plywood markets that virtually disappeared were only part of the scene. In the fall paper and pulp markets were at a depressed low. Mills closed, some permanently, and others went on short shift.
....The B.C. government’s passage of new recession recovery bills was de-cried by labor – and a province-wide general strike was talked about, and attempted in the late fall.
....The strike ended, but not before intense antagonism was felt by orga-nized labor and government.
....The new year brought us more misery in the form of a lockout by the pulp mill companies of B.C. in their long negotiations with the two pulp unions. This was heightened by bitterness be-tween them and the International Woodworkers of America after that union agreed to a three year labor pact with management.
....We are nearing summer and still the misery goes on. Organized labor is demanding that only union workers get jobs at the upcoming world’s fair site in Vancouver and the government says no
union sawmill worker and union pulp mill worker bash at each other in the cold of a northern morning over who is right and who is wrong? There are tables and chairs meant for that kind of fight.
....Can governments declare policies and then reverse them, and in doing so antagonize and infuriate a work force? What ever happened to good old fash-
ioned diplomacy? Are continuous all night sessions of parliament the sub-stitute?
....Every time a serious labor dispute happens in this province it affects our forest industry. So I repeat, the recipients of the benefits of this forest resource better make it their business to see that things bide well for their bread-winner and this province.
....Like so many others I have watched our B.C. be divided and seemingly go from bad to worse. Are we at the end now, or do we get another thrilling chapter next week when the heroine dangles from the cliff?
....Radio’s Molly used to say: “It ain’t funny McGee!” I agree – it ain’t. It’s pathetic that a huge piece of wealthy real-estate like B.C. could be tossed about like a dummy by uncompro-mising people. Where did we lose those good old middle-of-the-road people who knew how to handle all comers? Right of center, left of centre – go away. Bring back a nice middle of the road scene to this province!
....Well, history will laugh at us – as it always does at those too foolish to look after themselves when the times are good. And they have been good out here in the Golden West.
....Here’s a few quotes that might take us out of our misery for a moment. I think they speak well of the past year’s events.
....Winston Churchill in a broadcast from London on the 26th of August, 1950 – as it could have pertained to the
by: Bill Moore
to this demand. The sad tale of B.C.’s labor woes continues and we await the next shoe to drop.
....I hear people say “Is this really us? Can we be dragged into this very better and disastrous war of fists and slogans and picket signs and unthinking actions? What’s wrong out here on the shores of the Blue Pacific? Did someone declare war, but forget the guns?
....What do they think of us in Chicago or St. Louis where they can’t depend on having their orders filled for wood or pulp? I know the good Finlanders are laughing their way to recovery in the pulp markets because of our mills being sealed up. Can’t you just see those nice Swedish forestry chaps nodding their heads and beaming when the names British Columbia and forestry are men-tioned?
....I say – good for them. They have had a tougher recession and a longer one than we’ve had. And now we have created a pulp shortage and raised their prices. And at the same time we give them our customers on a silver platter. Goody, goody for you, Scandinavia!
....In fact I wonder what would go on in the minds of so many millions of people on this earth, if they realized the form of management-labor-government hari kari we have been administering to ourselves this past year. Of course those same millions really don’t care because they are too busy staving off starvation to bother with the opulence of this province.
....Are we really that uncaring about each other  here  in  B. C.  by-the-sea?  Can

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disagreements between the two pulp unions and the IWA.
....“Perhaps it is better to be irrespon-sible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.”
....Or, recalling the tv voices of so many union representatives during the long grey winter and spring of our discon-tent, P.G. Wodehouse once said: “It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.”
....I like Henry Kissinger’s remark as it could be quoted by Premier Bennett during last fall’s labor problem. “There cannot be a crisis next week, My schedule is already full.”
....While all this strike-lockout business was progressing, a possibly far more serious and far reaching event was happening in Ottawa and Victoria. The waffling and buck passing was at its political best as announcements of cut-backs to reforestation and silviculture programs were issued.
....Groucho Marx once summed up a situation that fits this very serious long term setback to our forests: “Why a four year old child could understand this report! Run out and get me a four year old child. I can’t make head nor
tail of it.”
I don’t believe any of us realized last summer when forest industry labor negotiations began, that events would turn from bad to worse to awful. Kaiser Wilhelm II of the old German Republic at the beginning of World War I said it well in August of that year as he spoke to his troops as they left for the front. “You will be home before the leaves fall from the trees.” Oops!
....So sayeth the varied opponents over the long grey winter: “We should sup-port whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports.” Quote from Chairman Mao Tse Tung.
....Then there was Marlene Dietrich’s great song in “Destry Rides Again” as it refers to the frustrated negotiators on all sides. “See what the boys in the back room will have.”
....One would have to say that of all the personalities who have weathered the storm of protests and haranguing during this near year long period, the IWA boss, Jack Munro, did more than any-one else to calm the sides at critical times. I can’t think of anyone in gov-ernment, management or union who stood out better than Munro.
....This forest industry has talken lots of setbacks in its earlier days and until
recently things have been going pretty well for it. Maybe, like the little boy who has had his own way for too long a time, we find it hard to adjust when new rules enter the game.
....And there are a lot of new rules that we are learning from this recession. Those who don’t learn – quickly – can be out of business in short order.
....There are experts everywhere pre-dicting anything you want to hear. Where were they when this recession took the forest industry into a head spin? And what if it doesn’t gedt over in the next three or four years? Hadn’t all sides better stop the rhetoric and bring out the compromises?
....It’s tough, and the wonderful W.C. Fields summed up the frustrations of these days in the forest industry when he said: “ Yes, yes, it’s a funny old world. A man’s lucky to get out of it alive!”

“Keep out of the bight!”

Bill Moore