Jenn MacPherson, from the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, leads the crowd in chanting during a United Steelworkers union local rally in front of Western Forest Products’ Nanaimo office on Nov. 6. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Jenn MacPherson, from the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, leads the crowd in chanting during a United Steelworkers union local rally in front of Western Forest Products’ Nanaimo office on Nov. 6. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Striking Western Forest Products union workers on Vancouver Island rally against concessions

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 holds march and rally in Nanaimo

Despite a work stoppage entering its fifth month, striking Island Western Forest Products workers have no intention of conceding in a new labour deal, says their labour leader.

Workers from United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 have been behind picket lines since July 1 and on Wednesday they gathered for a march to the company’s Nanaimo office and a subsequent rally. Brian Butler, union president, said the union has rejected “binding mediation” and there are no current plans for further negotiations.

“This is a good economy where this company is making millions of dollars and making record profits and they’re coming to the table with concessions? Those two things just don’t mix,” said Butler. “So we’re never going to take concessions. We’ve been saying that from Day 1 and they realize, and they must know by now, that they’re never going to get an agreement with us with those concessions on the table. They need to get them off and get a fair deal with our union.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers await word on potential mediation

RELATED: Island Western Forest Product workers on strike

Butler said seniority is one of the concessions the union takes issue with.

“They’ve unilaterally cancelled all [seniority rights and training and job security agreements] and our position is those agreements will not be cancelled,” said Butler. “They will have to be back in place because they are not going to erode our seniority rights … the union’s based on seniority and senior members will get the opportunity for those training postings and they’re not going to strip those rights away from us.”

Stephen Hunt, union director for western Canada, said the company is seeking an agreement similar with other agreements in B.C., but those are apples-to-oranges comparisons.

“The industry is different on the Island and it’s a different industry than it is in the Interior. Doesn’t suffer through the same cycles and it’s a different product mix, so we’re dealing with a slightly different industry and slightly different work force as well,” said Hunt.

Butler said workers from across the Island were invited to attend Wednesday’s rally and organizers estimated more than 300 people attended.

According to Susan Dolinski, Western Forest Products’ vice-president of corporate affairs, the company recognizes how challenging the labour dispute is for employees, their families and communities and is doing everything it can to end the strike.

Dolinski said the company has agreed with a mediator on a potential negotiation date, but has not yet heard back from the union.



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

Michele Babchuk with Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd. (BC Legislature)
Babchuk sworn in to B.C.’s 42nd Legislature

Oath ceremony held with MLAs connecting through video

Over 6,000 customers were affected by the power outage that started on Nov. 17. (BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro crews worked 16 hour days to turn the North Island’s power back on

BC Hydro runs one transmission line to Northern Vancouver Island so there was no backup line.

U’mista Cultural Centre is closed to the public until further notice, as of Nov. 23, 2020. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
U’mista closed until further notice due to new restrictions

North Island on high alert against COVID-19

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Island man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

Most Read