FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Negotiations between the union representing workers at 13 sawmills in Northern B.C., including the Canfor mill in Fort St. John, and the employers’ bargaining agent are now in mediation.
According to an update posted on the United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 website, the union’s bargaining committee began the Labour Relations Board mediation process on Monday.
The union said that on Monday and Tuesday of last week, the committee was bargaining with representatives of the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations, or Conifer.
The update stated that the union’s bargaining committee was using “a common sense approach in an attempt to avoid a strike,” but the following day was served notice that Conifer had applied to bring in a mediator under section 74 of the Labour Code.
“What is truly concerning is Conifer’s unwavering position that their concessionary agenda MUST be addressed,” the union added.
USW Local 1-2017 says that Conifer is offering the union a six-year contract with wage increases of between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent per year, while new hires would start at 85 percent of job rate.
Conifer is also said to be seeking double the probation period for new employees, is asking for language to be included that forces workers on alternate shifts to work statutory holidays at straight time, and wants to refuse to allow members to have Union representation for meetings that could lead to discipline.
Last month, 1,509 out of 1,629 who cast ballots voted in favour of strike action, which works out to 93 percent.