Black Press file photo.

Black Press file photo.

South region forestry workers nearly in legal strike position

Talks broke down between USW and IFLRA, resulting in booking out of provincial mediator

According to a Facebook post released by United Steelworkers (USW) president Pat McGregor, the Southern Interior region’s USW operations will be in official strike position on Nov. 21 at approximately 10 a.m.

The USW Bargaining Committee resumed talks on Nov. 2 with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA), an organization representing forestry employers. The committee represents USW Locals in Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook and Prince George, including 2,600 members in the south region and 2,000 members in the north region.

According to the post, USW agreed to provincial mediation “in order to kickstart stalled negotiations that have been going on for months” and the “collective agreement covering forestry workers in the North and Southern Interiors expired June 30.”

“After making some very significant moves to break the logjam between the two parties, the industry still insisted on keeping concessions on the table and dictating conditions on bargaining,” said Bob Matters, USW Staff and lead negotiator after three days of mediation in Kelowna.

As a result, the committee booked out provincial mediator Dave Schaub on Nov. 17. According to the post, this action requires a 48-hour time period to expire from the notice to be received by the BC Labour Relations Board before job action can take place.

“Following (that time period), early next week job action will begin at various operations in the South region, following in the actions of the North region that has been legal strike position since Oct. 6 and participating in an overtime ban as well as rotating strikes that have occurred,” states the post.

“With the forest industry reporting record profits in 2018, the employer is not willing to share in those profits while insisting the union agree to concessions. Halted job action in the North region will restart with continuing job action, while the South region’s operations will begin strategic job action early next week.”

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