The Need to Change the Direction of the Economy
Criminal Disregard for the People and Economy
Working people depend on the economy for their livelihood and life itself. The economy’s health and vigour is of primary importance to them. When the economy or a sector loses its vitality and goes into crisis, the working people are those who suffer the most and pay the price with unemployment and worse. For the people to hear that those in control of the economy are deliberately sabotaging its health, outrage is entirely justified and calls to hold them to account and for a new direction for the economy are entirely right and proper.
Working people in the BC forestry sector are enraged to learn that while they are being laid off by the thousands, those in control of the five largest companies in the sector are buying mills and expanding their operations in the United States.
To rub salt in the wounds of losing their jobs, seeing their mills shut down and forest harvesting operations curtailed, workers for Teal Jones learned that those in control of the company, which operates eight mills in BC, have used the social wealth workers produce in BC to purchase and expand two mills in the United States.
Teal Jones Group executives made two separate announcements in September of layoffs in BC and subsequently the purchase of two mills in Virginia. The company laid off 300 logging contractors on Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley, and said another 500 workers at the company’s two lumber, shake and shingle mills in Surrey would soon lose their jobs as timber supplies run out.
Two weeks after announcing the curtailment of production and layoffs, Teal Jones Group President and CEO Dick Jones boasted of using company funds to purchase and expand two Virginia sawmills creating 126 new jobs in that state. The company also agreed to source $100 million worth of Virginia timber over the next four years. The Governor of Virginia, in praising the investment, announced in return several pay-the-rich schemes for Teal Jones including an unspecified total of public money to come from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, the Port of Virginia’s Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone grant program and the state’s Enterprise Zone program, plus tax exemptions on the purchase of manufacturing equipment.
Forestry workers are confronted with their lack of control over their industry and lives. Private interests control the forest industry and do what they want with the social wealth that workers produce, and governments refuse to hold them to account. In a public statement many consider impotent, the NDP BC Premier John Horgan expressed frustration “with the five major CEOs of forest companies in BC” saying, “It is hard for me to listen to companies say they’re in distress when they’re making multimillion-dollar investments in the U.S. and Europe, and around the world.”
Workers refuse to accept this criminal disregard for their lives and the economy. A new direction is necessary that sets the extended reproduction and strengthening of the economy as central to its operation. For this to occur, those in control must direct the reinvestment of the social wealth workers produce in a socially responsible manner to build a diverse economy that has an internal self-reliant strength and trades with others for mutual benefit and development. Such an economy must have the aim to guarantee the rights and well-being of all, and humanize the social and natural environment.
The organized working people must hold to account all those in positions of authority who violate the aim and guiding principles of a modern socialized economy where the actual producers must have the decisive say and control. Private ownership cannot be used as an excuse to violate these principles, direction and aim of a modern economy. The working class must not and will not tolerate the present criminality of those in control of the BC forest industry and the refusal of governments to defend the people, including the silence of the cartel parties on this crisis during the federal election.