Western Forest Product workers, who have been strike since July, are set to go back to the table for mediated talks with the company on Thursday, Dec. 12. Pictured here, workers during a rally in Nanaimo in November. (News Bulletin file)

Striking Western Forest Products workers willing to ‘modify position’ if talks progress

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, says union and WFP to meet Thursday, Dec. 12

Western Forest Products workers’ union is expected to head back to the table with the company this week for mediated talks in Nanaimo, says the head of the union.

United Steelworkers 1-1937 members, on strike since July 1, will be meeting with WFP and mediators Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready on Thursday, Dec. 12, according to Brian Butler, union president. Talks will consist of face-to-face meetings, followed by the parties separating and mediators going back and forth between the two, trying to address “tough issues,” he said.

Workers are hoping conditions they deem unsafe are addressed, including alternate shifts and long hours in compressed work schedules, Butler said.

“Instead of working Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, it is working four 10-hour shifts, but what happens in manufacturing is you take those two 10-hour shifts and have a day shift and afternoon shift…” said Butler. “Now instead of going to work at 7 a.m. like you‘re used to, now you’re going to work at 5 a.m.…

“It compresses your time between shifts, so basically, you have time to come home, eat, say hi to your spouse and go to bed. There is no ability to volunteer in the community or even time with kids. So it has impacts on families, impacts on fatigue and safety in the workplace, so that’s just one example.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers rally in Nanaimo

RELATED: Island Western Forest Product workers on strike

On the logging side, Butler said there are four days on, four days off shifts, which are 11.6 hours a day and when you factor in a logger who has to travel to the work site hours either way, you can have 14-plus hour days and that can be fatiguing, especially in an industry with an aging workforce.

He said there are also issues with the company drug and alcohol policy, where workers can be terminated for having any trace amount in their system, which is an “arbitrary process” which isn’t applied fairly.

The union is willing to adjust its demands if it sees progress at the table, however, Butler said.

“If you make some headway in one area, you can modify your positions in another,” Butler said. “It’s just we’ve been stuck on this one area, around the alternate shifts, around drug and alcohol policy. There are still issues around [long-term disability] and the funding of LTD, but if we get rid of some of the bigger issues, we’re able to resolve them, obviously, we’re able to modify positions on other proposals and I don’t think it’s the other proposals that are the issue. I think we can get through them, once we get through these more difficult issues.”

In a statement, Western Forest Products confirmed the sides are set to meet Thursday, but said it couldn’t comment further out of respect for a media blackout during mediation.



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

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

North Island College brings marine training to Port Alberni

Marine Training instructor Captain Harry Johnston joins NIC team

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

Most Read