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 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

Captain Dziadyk to end season with Oceanside Generals on high note

Qualicum Beach player is longest-serving player in team history

Petition underway to stop bylaw on homeless camping in Regional District of Nanaimo

‘Canadians are known for their meekness but this time we need to have a voice’

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

Centre withdraws from cell tower project in Qualicum Beach

TELUS plans to continue to look at plans to improve cellphone reception in the area

Qualicum Beach council voices support for Ballenas track upgrade

Town still not ready to provide dollar amount without further information

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

BC Senior Curling titles to be decided in Vernon

Wes Craig, Penny Shantz looking for fifth championships; Steve Wright, Donna Mychaluk into finals

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read