Unionized workers are on strike this morning at the Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake, impacting about 50 unionized workers and another 50 contractors. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

Mill workers at Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake are on strike as of Tuesday morning, Oct. 16.

A couple dozen workers were on the picket line before the sun came up at 4 a.m. to send a message to negotiators that employees are serious about their demands, said Paul French, vice president of the Steelworkers union who was on site.

“We are here because collective bargaining is not going well,” French said.

Motorists travelling past the mill along Highway 20 in the City of Williams Lake honked and waved in support. About 50 unionized workers and 50 contractors are impacted by the job action.

The strike comes the morning that negotiations are scheduled to continue at meetings in Kelowna between Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) and the Steelworkers union, after talks broke down with Council of Northern Interior Forest Industry Relations (Conifer) last week.

Conifer executive director Michael Bryce told the Tribune Tuesday the IFLRA bargaining process is independent of Conifer.

“We were in mediation up until Sept. 28,” Bryce said. “Conifer did make an offer of settlement to the union in mediation. “At the core was a five-year term with a two per cent wage increase in each year for the employees. Unfortunately, the union saw the overall flavour of that offer as not adequate and withdrew from the mediation process. The implication of that is they would in a position to serve strike notice.”

The first step in strike action started over a week ago when union workers began to refuse all overtime work, French said.

The union issued strike notice just before the Thanksgiving long weekend and are in a legal position to strike.

At the heart of the matter is a demand for contract concessions, said French.

“The company wants to claw back things that we fought for and have won years ago,” French said.

“We don’t want to give anything up. We just want a fair deal.”

Bryce said in any bargaining process the union and the employer bring subjects to the table that require resolution from each perspective agenda.

“We have a small component of our agenda still live in the process,” he added.

Tolko operations in Quesnel shut down on the weekend impacting about 100 workers. The company has said market log costs and recovery were the reason for the closure, which is being reviewed on a week by week basis.

This article was updated from the original version earlier Tuesday with comments from Conifer.

Read More: Steelworkers union issues strike notice affecting 1,500 mill workers in northern B.C.

Read More: Forestry workers’ union bans employee overtime as strike looms


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna e-scooter company foils downtown robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to Kelowna

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

Kootnekoff: It’s my strata, and I’ll smoke if I want to (Part 2)

The final part of a legal battle between two strata residents and second-hand smoke

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Letter: Definition issues raised about being Canadian

To the editor: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment on U.S.… Continue reading

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Letter: More sani-dumps needed at camps

To the editor: Have you ever tried to book a campsite in… Continue reading

Letter: Bernier a Liberal Trojan horse

To the editor: When Maxime Bernier launched his PPC, he was flat… Continue reading

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Most Read