Finning workers stick with strike

Finning Canada's unionized employees are holding the line at sales and service outlets across B.C.

Finning Canada’s unionized employees are holding the line at sales and service outlets across B.C.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted Friday to stay out on strike after rejecting Finning’s latest contract offer.

The strike affects 700 employees at 25 Finning locations across B.C., including Nanaimo where 10 sales and service technicians have been off the job since the strike started June 22.

The most recent offer from the company was made after mediation ended July 7.

Subcontracting, statutory holidays on modified shifts, wages and the duration of a new contract remain the main hurdles in getting an agreement.

Stan Pickthall, union spokesman, said in a press release Friday that the union membership agreed to a wage freezein 2009 during the economic recession.

“Now times are different. Finning recently reported record profits for the first quarter of 2011,” Pickthall said.

Both sides say they are available to go back to the bargaining table, but no new negotiations are scheduled.

Jeff Wuite, Finning spokesman, said the company believes it presented a fair offer in a four-year contract and is disappointed it was rejected.

“We’re prepared to go back to the table any second right now, but unfortunately at this point there are no plans for further bargaining,” Wuite said.

Equipment sales and financial services are available at all Finning facilities and parts orders are being accepted.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to continue to pull back on service and field work,” Wuite said.

Finning workers manning pickets lines is unprecedented in B.C., where the company has operated since 1936 and its employees unionized in 1951.