VICTORIA, B.C. - B.C.'s coastal forest industry appears ready to grind to a halt as the major union representing forestry workers has gone on strike.The Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers union (whic...
VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C.’s coastal forest industry appears ready to grind to a halt as the major union representing forestry workers has gone on strike.
The Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers union (which represents 12,000 forestry workers) walked away from the table, with the union’s leader Dave Haggard calling the latest proposal from Forest Industrial Relations (FRI) “crap.”
FRI represents 61 coastal employers. The talks were held after a 98.7 per cent vote against FRI’s latest proposal and a one-day walkout preceeding the strike.
The latest proposal was for a three-year deal which would include a wage increase of one per cent for each of the first two years and a $6-million contribution to workers’ pension plans.
However, the proposal called for concessions on travel time and overtime.
At the time, Haggard said the proposal was “horseshit.”
“To say I am disappointed would be an understatement,” Haggard told local media.
“I thought when they asked us to come back to a meeting on Remembrance Day, they had something significant.
“But obviously they are trying to come back to the table with what I consider to be a death knell for our union membership, and I find that offensive.
“We have told them that we want to go away and study their concessions. It will probably take us a couple of weeks to put a response to that crap together, but we’ll do it as quickly as possible and we’ll give them a counter-proposal.”
FRI spokesman Scott Alexander says producers need to reduce labour costs by 20-30 per cent due mainly to the dispute with the U.S. over softwood lumber. Workers had been in a legal strike position since September but talks continued until late November.
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