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

Tofino restaurateur pays landlord’s generosity forward to Hospital Foundation

Coronavirus pandemic cancels foundation’s largest annual fundraiser

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Celebrating SonBird’s dedication to the Coast

West Coast recycling centre continues to serve thanks to an open-air depot and new regulations.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues wolf advisory

Frequent sightings reported around Long Beach area.

Online video series to feature writers from Tofino and Ucluelet

Quite Determined series launched to showcase creative minds whose speaking events were cancelled.

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Most Read