Workers at the Babine Forest Products Mill in Burns Lake have suspended their strike as their union the United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 prepares to enter mediation with management.
“We have stopped our overtime and rotating strikes while we’re in mediation with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association [IFLRA],”
Brian O’Rourke, President of Local 1-2017 told Lakes District News on Nov. 5.
The mediation is scheduled to happen Nov. 14-16 in Kelowna.
In a news release on Nov. 8 on the website of Local 1-2017, the union stated that the Canfor company reported “record profits in the third quarter of 2018 [but] has decided to engage in rotating layoffs at their BC operations, angering USW members in what looks more like a bargaining tactic than a reflection of markets.”
Local 1-2017 Vice-President Paul French pointed out that “the union’s 72-hour strike notice is still in effect. We’re in a legal position to call a strike if need be. We’re trying to avoid a strike [but we’re] also showing the seriousness of the situation. We’re not giving away things for free.”
“Ideally we would like to have a fair collective agreement that our membership can accept without any concessions on the table,” O’Rourke said.
United Steelworkers Local 1-2017, which represents more than 1,500 forestry workers in B.C., issued a 72-hour strike notice on Oct. 3.
Babine Forest Products’ workers are represented in bargaining by the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (Conifer) and includes more than 2,000 members across northern British Columbia in 13 different operations.
Local 1-2017 members had been conducting rotating strikes since early October.