Unionized workers are on strike this morning at the Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake, impacting about 50 unionized workers and another 50 contractors. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

Mill workers at Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake are on strike as of Tuesday morning, Oct. 16.

A couple dozen workers were on the picket line before the sun came up at 4 a.m. to send a message to negotiators that employees are serious about their demands, said Paul French, vice president of the Steelworkers union who was on site.

“We are here because collective bargaining is not going well,” French said.

Motorists travelling past the mill along Highway 20 in the City of Williams Lake honked and waved in support. About 50 unionized workers and 50 contractors are impacted by the job action.

The strike comes the morning that negotiations are scheduled to continue at meetings in Kelowna between Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) and the Steelworkers union, after talks broke down with Council of Northern Interior Forest Industry Relations (Conifer) last week.

Conifer executive director Michael Bryce told the Tribune Tuesday the IFLRA bargaining process is independent of Conifer.

“We were in mediation up until Sept. 28,” Bryce said. “Conifer did make an offer of settlement to the union in mediation. “At the core was a five-year term with a two per cent wage increase in each year for the employees. Unfortunately, the union saw the overall flavour of that offer as not adequate and withdrew from the mediation process. The implication of that is they would in a position to serve strike notice.”

The first step in strike action started over a week ago when union workers began to refuse all overtime work, French said.

The union issued strike notice just before the Thanksgiving long weekend and are in a legal position to strike.

At the heart of the matter is a demand for contract concessions, said French.

“The company wants to claw back things that we fought for and have won years ago,” French said.

“We don’t want to give anything up. We just want a fair deal.”

Bryce said in any bargaining process the union and the employer bring subjects to the table that require resolution from each perspective agenda.

“We have a small component of our agenda still live in the process,” he added.

Tolko operations in Quesnel shut down on the weekend impacting about 100 workers. The company has said market log costs and recovery were the reason for the closure, which is being reviewed on a week by week basis.

This article was updated from the original version earlier Tuesday with comments from Conifer.

Read More: Steelworkers union issues strike notice affecting 1,500 mill workers in northern B.C.

Read More: Forestry workers’ union bans employee overtime as strike looms


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria man dies after skydiving incident in Nanoose Bay

34-year-old had made more than 1,000 jumps

Additional $1.26M means big improvements coming for Parksville Community Park

Project includes construction of new outdoor stage and multi-use gathering space

COVID-19: Classical concerts series season cancelled for 2020-21

Group says scholarship program will continue

PQBeat: Ed Mayne talks COVID-19, potential pool for Parksville

Mayor returns to ‘PQB News’ studios to detail summer plans

RCMP searching for missing Langford teens in Cowichan Valley

Pair were headed to Lake Cowichan/Youbou area, last heard from in North Cowichan

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

Kamloops RCMP officer’s conduct under review after blackface jokes on social media

Meinke’s Instagram is private and it’s unclear when the posts were made

NHL says 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8

Positive rate for the league is just under 6%

Man charged in Rideau Hall crash had rifle, shotguns, high-capacity magazine: RCMP

Hurren is accused of threatening to cause death or bodily harm to the prime minister

B.C. extends income assistance exemption for COVID-19

Provincial program to match Ottawa’s CERB, student pay

Indigenous B.C. tour operator keeps culture alive through virtual journeys in COVID-19 era

Campbell River based Homalco Tours is also setting up live cameras for bear viewing in Orford

Most Read