A July 2 strike crew at the Cowichan Bay Western Forest Products sawmill included shop steward, Daniel McGonigle, second from left. (Black Press file)

Western Forest Products strike on Vancouver Island set to enter third week

Union says company doesn’t agree to mediator Vince Ready, Western says it isn’t the case

With a Western Forest Products strike on Vancouver Island about to enter its third week, the company has rejected mediation, says the union.

The forest company and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 have been in a labour dispute since July 1, after the union issued 72-hours’ strike notice. In a press release issued today, the union said it, with the aid of legal counsel and the B.C. Labour Relations Board, notified Western on Monday, that it “was prepared to accept a request for mediation with no preconditions, as renowned mediator Vince Ready was prepared to make himself available” if the two sides agreed. The union said Western Forest Products advised yesterday that they wouldn’t agree to Ready’s appointment.

Ready’s resumé includes settlements in strikes involving teachers and construction and mining workers and Western’s refusal to agree to someone with those qualifications is in contrast to what it has previously stated regarding mediation, Brian Butler, USW Local 1-1937 president, said in the press release.

RELATED: Western Forest Products workers on the Island strike

Western Forest Products, for its part, denies that it rejected mediation.

“We are fully committed to the collective bargaining process and we’ve been continuing to press to have a mediator appointed through the labour relations board and to clarify, what’s typical in this process is both parties will express preferences regarding the appointment of a mediator,” said Susan Dolinski, Western’s vice-president of corporate affairs. “This in no way should be interpreted as Western refusing mediation.”

Dolinski said Western has made requests to the labour relations board since June 25 and what the union’s statement signals to her is that it is open to mediation, a positive sign. The company is looking forward to appointment of a mediator when the labour relations board is able to make that decision, she said.

“We are still in discussions with the labour relations board and the union about the appointment of the mediator … we have to go through the process with the labour relations board to determine who will be the mediator and when that will take place,” said Dolinski. “That’s where we’re at right now and so it looks like we’ll return to the table and we’re hopeful that that will be soon.”

The strike affects Western’s six USW-certified mills on Vancouver Island, timberlands employees and employees that work for contractor companies. A sawmill in Ladysmith and the “value-added division” at Chemainus are not affected, as Dolinski said they are represented by different unions.

The union previously stated in a notice that it is striking because the company hasn’t addressed the union’s proposals seriously and “continues to keep massive concessions on the bargaining table that threaten” workers.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Ceremony to honour National Day of Remembrance on Dec. 6

The ceremony took place at noon on the plaza outside of the Comox Valley Art Gallery.

Province announces new school for Hornby Island; $27 million in upgrades to Lake Trail

Upgrades to Lake Trail include a $1.5-million child care centre

Cumberland rejects parking variance for proposed building

Council agrees to other variance for height change in mixed-use building

MARS receives the gift of an X-ray machine

Country Animal Hospital in Courtenay donated the machine and processing machine to MARS

Habitat for Humanity opens four more homes in Comox Valley

Area chapter finishes eight homes during one year for first time

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Grinch strikes Town of Comox’s Christmas lights

Someone made their way down Comox Avenue and cut wires for the Town’s Christmas decorations.

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Six B.C. municipalities accepted as interveners in Supreme Court of Canada carbon-pricing case

Victoria, Vancouver, Squamish, Richmond, Nelson and Rossland have intervener status

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low rain across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

Most Read