3,000 workers, contractors, on strike at WFP in coastal BC
By Ellen Cools
Western Forest Products (WFP) and the United Steelworkers (USW) failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The company and union had been in negotiations since April. The previous collective agreement expired in mid-June. Now approximately 3,000 forestry workers are on strike in coastal B.C.
These 3,000 workers include 1,500 of WFP’s hourly employees and 1,5000 employees working for its timberland contractors and operators, the Coast Reporter reports.
According to the Coast Reporter, United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 says the employees are on strike because WFP has not seriously addressed union proposals and is keeping “massive concessions” on the bargaining table.
In a press release, WFP CEO Don Demens said, “It is extremely disappointing that the USW has chosen to take strike action. After cancelling scheduled bargaining sessions and refusing mediation, it’s clear that the USW is intent on inflicting damage to the coastal forest industry, which already faces significant market challenges, including having to pay the highest softwood lumber duties for shipments to the United States of any jurisdiction in Canada and the loss of market share in Japan due to Japanese government subsidies for their domestic industry. We remain hopeful that they will agree to meet with a mediator so as to minimize the disruption to our employees, communities and customers.”
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