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Want to write a letter to the editor? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.

LETTER: Routley letter misses key points on WFP/loggers strike

“Accept the wage offer and comprise on the other outstanding issues”

Dear Editor,

Once again, Bill Routley shooting off from the hip not mentioning key points on the topic. Bill is telling us that Western Forest Products does care about their employees in the way they are treated, but forgets to realize that when the strike is over, these employees will still be employed by Western once again collecting their paycheques. Bill has mentioned nothing about negotiations on the new contract. Bill is now retired himself, and one of his pensions is his MLA pension, paid for by the B.C. taxpayers which is $28,612 per year and he will receive a total of $383,758 by the time he reaches age 80. Western Forest Products have offered the USW a five year contract. That is a 2 per cent wage increase per year for the first four years and a 2.5 per cent wage increase in year five of the contract along with a $2,000 one time signing bonus. Western has agreed to drop proposals to modernize agreements as well as pension plan alternation opposed by the union.

The USW are asking for a 4 year contract with a 3 per cent wage increase in years one and two of the contract, and wage increases of 2.5 per cent in years three and four of the contract. The union is asking for a 11 per cent wage increase over four years versus Western offering a wage increase of 10.5 per cent over five years. From a common sense approach, we can say that the wage portion of a new contract is satisfactory and the USW should agree to Western’s offer.

Presently manufacturing employees are working four 10 hour shifts and the logging employees are working four days on, four days off. The USW workers want to do a 40 hour work week in a five day working schedule, but Western will not agree to this, according to USW president Brian Butler, and yet Western CEO Don Demens saying they would. From a common sense approach, Western should comprise and return to a five day work week. There is no cost savings from working 10 hour shifts over four days and four days on, four days off from the traditional 40 hour five day week.

Other issues are USW want a increase in shift differentials, increase differential for first aid, and a boot allowance. Western does adopt a policy of contracting out, whereas the USW are against the policy. Western is the employer and should have the option of contracting out if they so wish.

Western has a policy that Long Term Disability stops at age 60, and the USW wants this to change to long term disability is also payable to age 60 plus. Sounds reasonable for Western to accept.

The USW wants Western to update their Alcohol and Drug wellness policy, as the way it is now, the employee can lose their job for very minor violations.

Brian Butler, USW president, is quoted as saying that Western Forest Products is bringing in over billion dollar incomes but fails to realize that operating expenses are on the rise at the same time, and wages and benefits are a major factor of these rising costs, that has to be addressed in a new union labour contract. Why?

Western’s net income in 2016, was $94.2 million, in 2017, $74.4 million, and in 2018, $69.2 million. A decrease of 26.5 per cent in 2018 from 2016. Butler, do the math first, before blowing off steam.

Butler also fails to realize that B.C. is not the only lumber manufacturer in the world. B.C. is in competition with other countries that manufacture lumber.

One major item that Butler fails to accomplish himself, is that when he directs his union workers to go on strike, then he himself should refuse receiving his monthly paycheque from the USW management office. Also when a reasonable contract offer is close to within reason with both parties, let the workers themselves have their say in a vote to see if the offer is of interest to them, instead of saying no solely by him. Brian still gets a paycheque, whereas his union members on the picket line do not, and only receive a small amount of strike pay from their union.

In summary, this strike has gone on for far too long and the wage offer by Western should be accepted and the other outstanding issues to be settled by both USW and Western, eliminating the bull head ness between both of them. The key factor here, is that a new contract is only going to come to reality based on the yearly net incomes of the company.

Employees say that their personal expenses are on the rise but also their employer’s expenses are on the rise too.

Accept the wage offer and comprise on the other outstanding issues. The facts and reality of common sense always prevail.

Unbelievable!

Joe Sawchuk,

Duncan

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