Trade unions representing workers across Quebec spoke out passionately about the economic damage and threats to jobs being caused by Greenpeace’s irresponsible attacks and unwillingness to engage with their communities.
In a group statement, saying they are “deeply distressed by the approach taken by Greenpeace," the Confederation of National Trade Unions was represented at a press conference by the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Alma, the Central Council of National Unions of Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, and the Manufacturing Industry Federation. Each of the unions denounced Greenpeace’s campaign that spreads misinformation about the boreal forest, and decried the group’s repeated indifference to appeals for dialogue with those communities that are being harmed.
In a public statement just weeks ago, Greenpeace admitted that the damage is real and ongoing. “We are troubled by the recent job losses…in the forest industry which affect workers and their families,” the group claimed. “We know that the men and women in the forest industry must be at the discussion table [and] we do want to talk to the…workers who know the conditions on the ground best.”
Those “workers who know the conditions on the ground best” are well aware that the boreal forest is in no way endangered, that Canada’s deforestation rate is virtually zero, and that less than 0.2% of the Canadian boreal is harvested each year – ten times less than what is disturbed annually by natural causes such as forest fires and disease. Those workers could also demonstrate that Resolute is a responsible forest manager, operating along with other Canadian forest products companies in a highly regulated environment and adhering to internationally recognized forest management and chain of custody standards.
Forestry workers are not defending their livelihoods at the expense of the environment – after all, wood is a renewable resource, and the long-term future of our communities depends on the sustainability of the forest. But these facts do not fit into Greenpeace’s misleading narrative.
Jean-Pierre Lebel, President of the National Union of Pulp and Paper Workers of Alma, refuted Greenpeace’s posturing. "This is a pretty critical situation,” he remarked. "I do not think Greenpeace cares about the workers or the region when it comes to this issue.”
Manufacturing Industry Federation President Mathieu Lafleur added, “Greenpeace should stop attacking workers. There are 280 employees here who could end up losing their jobs. Families could be swept away by these potential job losses.” Mr. Lafleur also said that he had reached out to Greenpeace repeatedly to discuss the situation but he never heard back.
Engelbert Cottenoir, Chairman of the Central Council of National Unions of Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, reiterated the harm being caused, saying that “280 honest workers and an entire region already suffering from various cutbacks will pay the price.”
The unions also took specific aim at Greenpeace’s recent efforts to intimidate book publishers. “We denounce this boycotting campaign [and] the members of the union will end up being the primary victims,” said Mr. Lebel. “If Resolute’s customers boycott paper produced in Alma, it would significantly and very quickly weaken the production of the mill’s two paper machines. Hundreds of full-time, well-paid jobs could be lost. [That’s why] we would like to bring the negative impact of Greenpeace’s actions to light.”
Greenpeace’s unwillingness to meet or even dialogue with the unions is part of an ongoing pattern. For years, many thousands of citizens in Canada’s Boreal region have reached out to Greenpeace, expressing their concerns by phone, on social media, during large public demonstrations, and through direct letters. How has Greenpeace responded to this avalanche of heartfelt appeals about the real harm they have caused? They have simply ignored them.