Future uncertain for employees at Williams Lake, B.C., sawmill following fire
Mill may not re-open for 6 months; union encouraging people to file for Employment Insurance
A fire that caused extensive damage at the Williams Lake Lakeview Tolko sawmill has left 170 workers without a paycheque for the past two weeks, and their future at the mill is still uncertain.
"The actual sawmill itself was not badly damaged in the fire," said Tolko spokesperson Janice Lockyer.
"The section that was impacted the most was the offices, and there was extensive damage in that area. It won't be operational until the office area is reconstructed."
Lockyer said construction will likely take six months.
In the meantime, Paul French, first vice president of United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 said the union is encouraging people to file for employment insurance.
With the holidays approaching, French, said there is added strain on employees and their families.
"Timing is never good, but it kind of impacts people even more, because Christmas is supposed to be a time of enjoyment." French said.
French said the union is trying to relocate employees to other Tolko mills, primarily the other one in Williams Lake and the mill up in Quesnel, but until Tolko and the union can discuss this further, it's unclear what employees can expect over the next six months.
"There is some concern, but we're doing our best to keep the lines of communication open," Lockyer said.
With files from Jenifer Norwell