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‘Parties are too far apart’: WFP strike mediators walk away


February 5, 2020
By Maria Church
Maria Church

The independent mediators for the Western Forest Products (WFP) strike have withdrawn their services from the negotiation process, determining neither side is ready for a deal.

According to both WFP and United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937 (USW), mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers informed them in a letter that the parties are too far apart at this time.

The news is a blow to those hoping for an end to the seven-month strike between the B.C. coastal lumber producer and its 3,000 timberland and manufacturing workers.

WFP response

Don Demens, president and CEO of WFP, issued the following response to the mediators’ withdrawal.

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“We are disappointed that despite previous proposals offering superior wage and contract provisions to what the USW and the forest sector have agreed to throughout British Columbia we have been unable to reach a negotiated settlement. We will continue to explore all options available to bring an end to the prolonged USW strike and have reached out to the Ministry of Labour to seek clarification on next steps.

“We recognize the profound impact the strike is having on our employees, contractors, their families and communities. We remain committed to reaching a fair and equitable agreement that recognizes the important contributions of our employees, while maintaining the sustainability of our business so that we can continue to serve our customers who, through their purchases, support thousands of jobs in communities on the coast of British Columbia.”

Union response

Rick Nelson, first vice-president of USW Local 1-1937, stated, “It is truly unfortunate that WFP has put corporate greed over our members’ right to have safe and secure jobs. It is clear to the union that WFP’s refusal to move on a single issue dating back to November is at the centre of the mediators’ withdrawal.”

Brian Butler, president of USW Local 1-1937, said, “The Local Union remains prepared and committed to the bargaining process every day and are open to meeting with WFP’s bargaining committee at any time in order to reach a fair collective agreement. The union will be reaching out to the WFP’s new bargaining committee to see if they will agree to resume bargaining.”

Read the full USW news release: