United Steelworkers Union Local 1-2017 hosted a meeting Tuesday at the Ramada Inn Convention Centre for employees impacted by the Tolko Lakeview fire. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Tolko sawmill employees updated on EI and training

United Steelworkers Union Local 1-2017 hosts meeting for employees impacted by the Tolko Lakeview fire

Tolko employees impacted by the Nov. 2 Lakeview fire were equipped with information about unemployment insurance and retraining opportunities at a union meeting held Tuesday in Williams Lake.

About 50 people attended the information session held in the Ramada Inn Convention Centre and heard from representatives from Service Canada, WorkBC and United Steelworkers Union Local 1-2017 vice-president Paul French.

In advance of the meeting, employees had sent questions to the union’s project manager Terry Tate, and the Service Canada representative answered them all.

They ranged from confirming an employee is not expected to take a job in Quesnel as that would mean travelling further than is required to the fact people can pick out the strongest 18 earning weeks from the last 52 when applying for unemployment insurance.

French told the Tribune Wednesday the meeting went “fairly” well and WorkBC indicated there is money for training and the union is positive for its workers.

“Whether retraining will fall into play for our guys I don’t know because the layoff is temporary,” he said.

Some employees, he added, will use it as an opportunity to gain knowledge that will help them when they return to work or if they have decided to try and find another job.

“Our goal is to have enough employees around for when the mill is fired up again.”

Tate told the Tribune Tuesday that of the 175 employees normally working at the mill, about 75 are not working.

See More: VIDEO: Union hosting meeting for Tolko sawmill employees

Tolko’s manager of external and stakeholder relations Tom Hoffman said Wednesday that crews are still pulling apart the areas damaged by the fire and the damage is still being assessed.

“The computers for the sawmill were all toast and the other damage was pretty extensive on the electrical,” Hoffman said, noting no cause of the fire has been identified as yet.

Read More: Fire crews fight for local economy

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