A slumping Japanese economy, a devaluation of the Yen compared to the U.S. dollar, and unusually dry conditions in the woods has prompted Interfor to lay off more than 100 loggers, employees and contractors in the Squamish area for most of June and possibly longer.
Because the layoffs are largely related to market conditions, the situation will be assessed week-to-week.
Because Interfors lumber transactions are conducted in U.S. dollars, Interfor products were priced too high for the Japanese market. Housing starts and construction in Japan have tapered off significantly in the last decade as the country has struggled to break free of a recession.
In terms of finding other markets for B.C. wood, the U.S. market is hampered by a surplus of wood and a slowing economy, and all Canadian wood exports have been hit hard in Europe by environment group-driven boycotts of old-growth timber.
To make things worse, a number of loggers have speculated the driest spring conditions in years will force the forest service to close the woods before the laid off workers can return to the job.
The men and women to be affected by the layoffs were notified on May 25. The work slowdown will not impact Interfors Squamish sawmill, which was shut down for over year in 1998-99.