West Fraser’s vice president of Canadian Wood Products Brian Balkwill said the production curtailments announced today for operations in Chasm, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Chetwynd will last eight days.
Balkwill said Chasm, 100 Mile and Chetwynd operations will stop production after the last shift on Dec. 14, 2018, and resume on Jan. 2, 2019. The Williams Lake Mill will shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Balkwill said he’s not able to provide a number of employees the curtailments will affect, as some of the operations will still be running.
“We will continue to have log deliveries, operator kilns and ship lumber,” explained Balkwill. “It’s not a permanent closure, it’s a market curtailment for a temporary basis,” he stressed, saying poor lumber prices and high log costs are to blame.
Balkwill said the decision to shut down over the holidays was made in order to have the least amount of impact on employees.
“Many of our employees are always looking for Christmas holidays, so we thought, maybe this is the time to take it, to have the least impact to them. This way we are hoping it will be less impact to the majority of the people. We won’t be paying them, but many will elect to take holidays. That will be the employee’s choice.”
Balkwill indicated that if an employee has vacation time left as part of their benefits package and they choose to use it during the curtailment, they will be paid for the vacation days.
As for the future, Balkwill said he hopes the company will not have to make similar curtailments going forward. “We are going to continue to monitor the market like we do weekly now and see what happens. I’m not able to make a guarantee that it won’t happen again, but we are hoping it won’t.”
West Fraser Mills has announced today (Nov. 30) it will temporarily curtail production a four B.C. sawmills over the holiday season.
Operations in Chasm, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Chetwynd will be affected. West Fraser CEO Ted Seraphim cited “challenging lumber markets and high log costs coupled with log supply constraints” for the decision.
Spruce, pine and fir (SPF) lumber production will be reduced by approximately 25 million board feet, according to West Fraser’s news release.
The release does not indicate when the production cuts will begin and end, or how many employees are affected.
The news comes after West Fraser announced mid-November that it is permanently reducing production at its Quesnel and Fraser Lake sawmills, affecting a total of 135 employees.
The Observer has contacted West Fraser and is awaiting a response.
More to come.