Striking forest workers Chris Walling and Dan Gabrielson from Western Forest Product’s Saltair mill in Ladysmith took their message to the streets of Duncan on Oct. 22. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Striking forestry workers take to streets in Duncan

Latest talks break off with no agreement

Dan Gabrielson and Chris Walling are taking their message to the streets of Vancouver Island.

The men are workers at Western Forest Product’s Saltair mill in Ladysmith and members of the striking United Steel Workers Local 1-1937.

They said they have been sitting on picket lines in front of their mill since Canada Day and felt they would be more proactive on getting their message out to the public by traveling to communities where striking workers live and wave their strike signs along busy streets.

The men were set up on Government Street in front of Duncan’s Charles Hoey Park on Oct. 22.

“We’ve been on the streets in Nanaimo for the last few days so we decided to come to Duncan to spread the word,” said Gabrielson as cars honked their horns in support.

“Western Forest Products made $80 million last year but they put 27 concessions they want us to make on the table, with the biggest stumbling blocks involving pensions and benefits, and are not willing to move an inch on them,” he said.

“This issue is not getting enough coverage so we decided to do this.”

RELATED STORY: UNION SAYS WESTERN FOREST PRODUCTS REFUSES TO BUDGE FROM “UNREASONABLE CONCESSIONS”

Walling said that when they are working, company officials would tell them they were the best workers the company has ever had.

“But then they turn around and treat us like this,” he said.

“It isn’t right.”

Approximately 1,500 of WFP’s hourly employees who are members of the USW Local 1-1937, including hundreds at WFP mills in Cowichan Bay, Chemainus and Ladysmith, and 1,500 employees working for the company’s timberlands operators and contractors in B.C., commenced a strike on July 1.

The strike affects all of the company’s Steelworkers certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in B.C.

The Steelworkers have stated that its members, who voted 98.8 per cent in favour of striking, started the job action because the company has not seriously addressed union proposals and continues to keep “massive concessions” on the bargaining table as both sides try to negotiate a new collective agreement.

The latest round of negotiations that were held on Oct. 16-20 ended in failure and the union issued a three-page press release stating that WFP “squandered an opportunity to reach a collective agreement… by refusing to move off its unreasonable, unwarranted and unacceptable concessions.”

RELATED STORY: TALKS BREAK DOWN BETWEEN STEELWORKERS, WESTERN FOREST PRODUCTS

“We did not accept any concessions in this round of bargaining, especially since there is no market evidence on the coast and no company performance that demonstrates that cost-cutting is needed,” the press release said.

“It appears that WFP has not learned that no deal will be reached with their concessions on the table. It also suggests that WFP has no real interest in reaching a deal as they have publicly stated. The bargaining committee is open to further mediation with WFP if they are prepared to make changes in their position.”

A one-sentence statement from WFP said the forest company believes that “the best place for these discussions to occur is at the bargaining table, and we remain available for mediation later this week.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.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

Just Posted

LSS students make video to commemorate 2020 musical

The LSS production of Newsies was cancelled due to COVID-19

Local handyman crafts emergency float from recycled materials

Pieter Stegeman built Air-Float-One to keep himself busy during the pandemic

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

Investigators still hoping to solve 2015 Brown homicide case

Tips being sought into Penelakut Island woman’s death five years ago

‘He has a home’, the tale of Ladysmith’s Turf Kitty

Chewy, also known as ‘Turf Kitty’, is a popular presence at Forrest Field

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

RCMP looking for missing teen in Comox Valley

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Most Read