Western Forest Product workers, who have been strike since July, are set to go back to the table for mediated talks with the company on Thursday, Dec. 12. Pictured here, workers during a rally in Nanaimo in November. (News Bulletin file)

Striking Western Forest Products workers willing to ‘modify position’ if talks progress

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, says union and WFP to meet Thursday, Dec. 12

Western Forest Products workers’ union is expected to head back to the table with the company this week for mediated talks in Nanaimo, says the head of the union.

United Steelworkers 1-1937 members, on strike since July 1, will be meeting with WFP and mediators Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready on Thursday, Dec. 12, according to Brian Butler, union president. Talks will consist of face-to-face meetings, followed by the parties separating and mediators going back and forth between the two, trying to address “tough issues,” he said.

Workers are hoping conditions they deem unsafe are addressed, including alternate shifts and long hours in compressed work schedules, Butler said.

“Instead of working Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, it is working four 10-hour shifts, but what happens in manufacturing is you take those two 10-hour shifts and have a day shift and afternoon shift…” said Butler. “Now instead of going to work at 7 a.m. like you‘re used to, now you’re going to work at 5 a.m.…

“It compresses your time between shifts, so basically, you have time to come home, eat, say hi to your spouse and go to bed. There is no ability to volunteer in the community or even time with kids. So it has impacts on families, impacts on fatigue and safety in the workplace, so that’s just one example.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers rally in Nanaimo

RELATED: Island Western Forest Product workers on strike

On the logging side, Butler said there are four days on, four days off shifts, which are 11.6 hours a day and when you factor in a logger who has to travel to the work site hours either way, you can have 14-plus hour days and that can be fatiguing, especially in an industry with an aging workforce.

He said there are also issues with the company drug and alcohol policy, where workers can be terminated for having any trace amount in their system, which is an “arbitrary process” which isn’t applied fairly.

The union is willing to adjust its demands if it sees progress at the table, however, Butler said.

“If you make some headway in one area, you can modify your positions in another,” Butler said. “It’s just we’ve been stuck on this one area, around the alternate shifts, around drug and alcohol policy. There are still issues around [long-term disability] and the funding of LTD, but if we get rid of some of the bigger issues, we’re able to resolve them, obviously, we’re able to modify positions on other proposals and I don’t think it’s the other proposals that are the issue. I think we can get through them, once we get through these more difficult issues.”

In a statement, Western Forest Products confirmed the sides are set to meet Thursday, but said it couldn’t comment further out of respect for a media blackout during mediation.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Flashback: Haiti relief pours in, political kerfuffle has deep roots, and BCFP acts quickly on PCP leak

We’ve also included a picture of Lake Cowichan Kinsmen rescuing the Duckpond dock

Chris Wilkinson column: Perspective matters now more than later

The point here is that priorities matter. All the time. Every month.

Flooding has closed several roads in Cowichan Valley

All the usual suspects are involved: overflowing ditches, low-lying spots, and huge piles of snow

PHOTOS: Winter Wonderland was a hit at Lake Cowichan

Check out the photos by Malcolm Chalmers

Snow sidelines skills competition, most Jamboree games Saturday

But it’s not over for the skills competition; watch for a new date

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Most Read