Forestry workers legislated back to work

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VICTORIA, B.C. — A three-week long strike by coastal forestry workers is coming to an end, as the provincial government plans to introduce back-to-work legislation this week.

Premier Gordon Campbell made the announcement yesterday, as the three-week old strike dragged on. The legislation will force 10,000 forest workers back to work while a mediators hears out both sides of the labour dispute.

“There is no time to waste,” Campbell told local media. “This is a difficult but necessary measure that will give both parties the process and mediator-arbitrator they agree will make sure that we have an end to this dispute now.”

The dispute is between the Industrial, Wood, and Allied Workers of Canada and the Forest Industrial Relations a group representing 45 coastal forestry companies. Workers could be back on the job as early as today, but the legislation isn’t expected to be implemented until Thursday.

“I’m glad that our membership is going back to work. We never wanted to be on strike,” said IWA president, Dave Haggard. “But I’m very concerned about the right of the arbitrator to impose an agreement. We’ve never done that before and obviously, there are some concerns for us.”

Coastal forest companies are striving to cut 15 per cent from their labour costs in order to remain in business. The companies claim their labour costs are 70 per cent higher than competitors in the Pacific Northwest.

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