Workers at Western Forest Products have been on strike since Canada Day. (File photo)

Talks break down between Steelworkers, Western Forest Products

Strike now in its third month

Talks to end the strike at Western Forest Products on Sept. 13 ended abruptly with no deal, and both sides blaming each other for the impasse.

A bargaining unit from the United Steelworkers, local 1-1937 met with mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers and company officials in Nanaimo where the union said it tabled a revised set of proposals for the forest company to consider, including a revised wage proposal.

But local union president Brian Butler said that after hours of negotiations, the company’s position remained unchanged with “massive concessions” remaining at the table and the company’s refusal to address the union’s issues in any significant way.

RELATED STORY: STRIKE ACTION COMMENCES AT WFP MILLS

He said that while officials at WFP have publicly claimed that they were working in earnest to prepare for the mediation and that they want to reach a deal, their actions at the bargaining table, the Labour Relations Board, in the courts and in mediation tell a far different story.

“WFP is not bargaining and is using an American style, bargaining-by-litigation strategy which messages that they are interested in bargaining to the media, but are actually bent on inflicting damage to the union and its members,” Butler said.

“It is a strategy that will fail. The union knows that mediation is needed and we want to reach an agreement, but WFP’s complete lack of movement, numerous concessions, outstanding and ongoing LRB applications and court litigation have made mediation pointless at this time.”

RELATED STORY: LRB UPHOLDS RIGHT OF LABOUR MOVEMENT TO DECLARE “HOT EDICT” IN WFP STRIKE

Don Demens, president and CEO of WFP, said the union withdrew from mediation on Sept. 13 with the company and the mediators, and the Steelworkers said they would not be returning to the talks.

“We are disappointed that talks have broken off and firmly believe that resuming discussions with the assistance of an independent mediator is the best way for both parties to resolve our differences,” Demens said.

“It’s surprising that the United Steelworkers continue to refuse to give the mediation process the opportunity to work, given what is at stake for our employees, customers and the communities in which we operate.”

Approximately 1,500 of WFP’s hourly employees who are members of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, including hundreds at WFP mills in Cowichan Bay and Chemainus, and 1,500 employees working for the company’s timberlands operators and contractors in B.C., commenced a strike on Canada Day.

RELATED STORY: STRIKING WFP WORKERS AWAIT WORD ON POTENTIAL MEDIATION

The strike affects all of the company’s Steelworkers certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in B.C.

The Steelworkers have stated that its members, who voted 98.8 per cent in favour of striking, started the job action because the company has not seriously addressed union proposals and continues to keep “massive concessions” on the bargaining table as both sides try to negotiate a new collective agreement.

The company has said the strike is taking place at a “very challenging time” for the industry, which is facing a market downturn due to low lumber prices and high costs because of the softwood lumber duties.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Chemainus Theatre offers fall fun with ‘Lumberjacks in Love’

Are you ready for a musical called Lumberjacks in Love? Join the crowd for a fun night out

Roe leads Cowichan contingent at lacrosse Worlds

Defender locks up NLL deal after helping England to fourth

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

2 guitar trios combine for a powerhouse evening of music at Cowichan Theatre

California and Montreal Guitar Trios are coming together to Duncan for a great show

Brothers in Cowichan Valley win big in lottery for 2nd time

Playing same numbers net big wins over a three year period

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

One person hurt in crash at busy Nanaimo intersection

Minivan, sport utility vehicle collide at old Island Highway, Bowen Road and Norwell Drive

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Suspect hits woman with pipe, jumps into waiting truck in downtown Nanaimo

Police say victim believes ‘vicious assault’ was an attempted purse-snatching

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

Most Read