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

BCHL: Bulldogs fall to Capitals in third preseason loss

Alberni Valley Bulldogs will be on the road starting Wednesday, Aug. 28

Casual car show will put the drive into food drive

Port Alberni’s Cars and Coffee will wrap up with a food drive in September

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port Alberni bands ‘out of the basement’ and onto an album

Two bands, products of the Alberni Valley’s school of rock, celebrate their CD debut

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Most Read