United Steelworkers members on the picket line of the Western Forest Products facility at Menzies Bay, just north of Campbell River, on Aug. 26, 2019. Mirror File Photo

Union says mediated negotiation with WFP has been ‘disappointing’

Striking forestry workers have been on picket lines since Canada Day

The union representing striking Western Forest Products (WFP) employees says it is disappointed that neither negotiations nor mediation seem to be bearing fruit in its labour dispute with the company, but WFP itself says it’s the union that has walked away from the talks.

In a press release issued on Monday, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1-1937, which represents the workers, says mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers met with both sides on Sept. 13.

USW, the release says, “tabled a revised set of proposals” for WFP to consider, including a revised wage proposal, but “mediators then spent four of the six hours in mediation meeting with WFP, returning on two occasions to advise that WFP’s positions were relatively unchanged with no anticipated movement.”

Rick Nelson, 1st vice-president of Local 1-1937, says he wasn’t surprised the talks haven’t gone well, as it’s his view that “WFP has an agenda from the beginning to break the union and blacken the eye of the BC Government over new forest policies it doesn’t like,” including, “new regulations on economic logging zones and waste standards, which were designed to reduce log exports and create more jobs,” according to the release.

RELATED: Strike action commences at WFP mills

“We know it is disapponting for our 2,500 members currently on strike, as well as for forest-dependent communities to hear that mediation has failed to this point,” the release says, “but it takes two parties to engage in the process and USW Local 1-1937 cannot and will not bagain with ourselves. We believe it has been WFP’s plan to raise the hopes of mediation in our members, knowing all along that they wouldn’t move and mediation would fail, in order to try and undermine USW members resolve.”

Meanwhile, WFP says although the talks on Sept. 13 did not produce results, the mediation was scheduled to continue the following day, but “the mediators informed the company that USW had left and would not be returning for talks, scheduled for the full day on Sept. 14,” according to a WFP release.

“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,” says Don Demens, President and Chief Executive Officer of WFP in the release. “It is surprising that the USW continues 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.”

A few facts about the strike:

n The workers have been on strike since Canada Day, after 98.8 per cent of it membes voted in favour of strike action when the two sides couldn’t negotiate an agreement to replace the five-year one that expired mid-June.

n The USW have said its members 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.

n WFP confirmed that approximately 1,500 of the company’s hourly employees and 1,500 employees working for the company’s timberlands operators and contractors in B.C. went on strike.

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

n The BC Federation of Labour announced a “hot edict” July 11 on WFP in a show of solidarity with striking forest workers.

n On Aug. 20, WFP sent out an email to employees stating that the company is not obligated to provide benefits when a collective agreement is not in place. During the last strike on Vancouver Island in 2007, WFP covered employees’ benefits while they were on the picket line, and employees paid the company back.

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

Just Posted

Change in service: Port Hardy is switching from bi-weekly garbage pick up to weekly schedule

The cost for the weekly garbage pick up service is an additional $30.12 annually.

Cancelling bus service between Campbell River and Port Hardy will compromise health access, region warns

Mount Waddington Health Network says transportation primary factor for rural health access

Badinotti makes cash donations to North Island food banks

‘it’s fantastic that they are supporting community organizations like this’

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

NDP pushing for 10 days of paid sick days for all working Canadians

NDP has made the issue a requirement for their support of the Liberal government

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

West Coast Trail to remain closed for now

Federal government won’t open world-famous trek until its First Nations are ready for visitors

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

B.C. drive-in theatre shuts down to await appeal of car limits, concession rules

Business owner Jay Daulat voluntarily closed down the theatre awaiting a health ministry decision

Huawei executive loses court ruling, extradition case continues

Judge says allegations against Meng Wanzhou could constitute a crime in Canada

Most Read