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.

Just Posted

Nanoose Bay traffic update: paving postponed but closure extended on Northwest Bay Road

Mainroad Contracting halts paving while City of Parksville waits on contractors

Group aims to preserve French Creek tree

Save Estuary Land Society says bald eagles used tree for nest

Farewell to Parksville Beach Festival for 2019

People’s Choice Awards tallied, organizers report another successful year

Oceanside RCMP officer makes Alexa’s Team

Munro able to stop and process 15 impaired motorists during the past year

Oceanside Generals boost arsenal for coming VIJHL season

Coach Lemmon gets a good look at players at main camp

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience the ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Vancouver Island senior found safe with help from six search and rescue teams

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush in north Nanaimo

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Most Read