Support is strong for workers at the Chemainus sawmill. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Support for strikers keeping the faith

Donations making a difference as labour dispute drags on

Tough times call for a community to help lessen the blow.

With the United Steelworkers and Western Forest Products labour dispute past the five-month mark and likely to continue well into the new year, barring a Christmas miracle, the impact is clearly being felt at this point by many families.

Workers with younger children are surely having to stretch their budgets to the extreme after this length of time.

This is when so many people from different walks of life pitch in to provide a helping hand.

The donations being made either directly to the picket line at the Chemainus sawmill or indirectly through collection spots such as the union hall on Brae Road in Duncan are helping to make a difference. Particularly at Christmastime, it’s difficult to cut back on food or spending on presents.

That, in turn, has an impact on the business community. The longer the strike goes, businesses certainly expect to see a decrease in spending by those affected.

Help has been coming from so many sources – school children, seniors, community organizations. Collections have been ongoing and bringing welcome relief to so many.

Shannon Carlow of Crofton and Melanie Cinkant of Ladysmith teamed up without having previously known each other to support the workers. As Carlow pointed out, some of the most generous people are those who have the least.

That’s the wonderful thing about this area and how everyone works together in a time of need. This is clearly a crisis, with the duration of the strike dragging out far longer than anyone expected.

One has to hope there will be an end soon for everyone concerned. It might – and probably should – involve some form of provincial government intervention to support our struggling forest industry.

The long-term effects can be devastating, as this community knows all too well from previous strikes and closure of the prior mill in the early 1980s. There are fears about the future of the Chemainus sawmill again that can only be allayed – temporarily, at least – once an agreement’s in place.

As a community, we look out for each other. That benefits everyone because you never know when the shoe will be on the other foot.

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