BC receives report on successorship, timber harvesting rights
July 29, 2022 By Government of British Columbia
The B.C. government has received a report on successorship when timber harvesting rights are transferred.
B.C. will also engage with First Nations rights and title holders involved in forestry, as well as seek input from unions and employers in the forest sector.
No decisions have been made on implementing any of the report’s recommendations.
Successorship rules provide stability for workers during the sale, lease or transfer of a business. The rules require the new employer to honour the existing collective agreement so workers’ jobs and negotiated benefits, and the employers’ obligations are preserved, despite the change in ownership. However, those same protections do not currently apply to situations where timber harvesting rights are transferred and there is no sale or transfer of a business.
In November 2021, under the Labour Relations Code, the Ministry of Labour appointed an industrial inquiry commission (IIC), consisting of Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, to look at ways to address successorship protections for the forest sector. The appointment of an IIC was recommended by the Labour Relations Code Review Panel in 2018, and was included in the Ministry of Forests’ Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia intentions paper in 2021.
The IIC report provides recommendations to extend union rights, or successorship, where forest tenure is transferred from one entity to another and harvesting rights continue within a five-year period.
The report includes specific recommendations related to the transfer of harvesting rights to First Nations. The recommendations include possible changes to the Labour Relations Code, which would allow a First Nation to trigger negotiations with the union for collective agreement modifications necessary to ensure its terms align with the principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
Decisions about if, when or how to implement the IIC recommendations will be guided by engagements with parties that could potentially be affected.
Learn more: news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022LBR0012-001181.
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