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

Long-awaited Crofton road improvements finally happening

Paved shoulders on both sides will be a welcome addition

Ladysmith Little Theatre now showing The Dining Room

Opening night is Thursday, September 19 and the final performance is Sunday, October 6

New ratepayers association forming in Area H

Organization will advocate for North Oyster, Yellowpoint and Diamond District residents

Mrs. Warren’s Profession a delightful comedic romp

Chemainus Theatre Festival did not disappoint with their production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read