Western Forest Product workers, who have been strike since July, are set to go back to the table for mediated talks with the company on Thursday, Dec. 12. Pictured here, workers during a rally in Nanaimo in November. (News Bulletin file)

Striking Western Forest Products workers willing to ‘modify position’ if talks progress

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, says union and WFP to meet in Nanaimo

Western Forest Products workers’ union is expected to head back to the table with the company this week for mediated talks in Nanaimo, says the head of the union.

United Steelworkers 1-1937 members, on strike since July 1, will be meeting with WFP and mediators Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready on Thursday, Dec. 12, according to Brian Butler, union president. Talks will consist of face-to-face meetings, followed by the parties separating and mediators going back and forth between the two, trying to address “tough issues,” he said.

Workers are hoping conditions they deem unsafe are addressed, including alternate shifts and long hours in compressed work schedules, Butler said.

“Instead of working Monday to Friday, eight hours a day, it is working four 10-hour shifts, but what happens in manufacturing is you take those two 10-hour shifts and have a day shift and afternoon shift…” said Butler. “Now instead of going to work at 7 a.m. like you‘re used to, now you’re going to work at 5 a.m.…

“It compresses your time between shifts, so basically, you have time to come home, eat, say hi to your spouse and go to bed. There is no ability to volunteer in the community or even time with kids. So it has impacts on families, impacts on fatigue and safety in the workplace, so that’s just one example.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers rally in Nanaimo

RELATED: Island Western Forest Product workers on strike

On the logging side, Butler said there are four days on, four days off shifts, which are 11.6 hours a day and when you factor in a logger who has to travel to the work site hours either way, you can have 14-plus hour days and that can be fatiguing, especially in an industry with an aging workforce.

He said there are also issues with the company drug and alcohol policy, where workers can be terminated for having any trace amount in their system, which is an “arbitrary process” which isn’t applied fairly.

The union is willing to adjust its demands if it sees progress at the table, however, Butler said.

“If you make some headway in one area, you can modify your positions in another,” Butler said. “It’s just we’ve been stuck on this one area, around the alternate shifts, around drug and alcohol policy. There are still issues around [long-term disability] and the funding of LTD, but if we get rid of some of the bigger issues, we’re able to resolve them, obviously, we’re able to modify positions on other proposals and I don’t think it’s the other proposals that are the issue. I think we can get through them, once we get through these more difficult issues.”

In a statement, Western Forest Products confirmed the sides are set to meet Thursday, but said it couldn’t comment further out of respect for a media blackout during mediation.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo’s newest fire truck blends latest firefighting technology with nod to history

New $1.56-million aerial truck can reach higher places, but is smaller and more manoeuvrable

Nanaimo NightOwls will play ball under the lights next season

West Coast League baseball club unveils its team name

COVID-19 pandemic estimated to lead to $2-million loss for RDN Transit

Regional District of Nanaimo has been seeing gradual rider increase since mid-May

Shop window art show explores COVID-19, the Black Death and the Renaissance

Rotating ‘Renewal’ exhibition coming to Arbutus Books display window in August

Speed limit on Nanaimo’s Georgia Avenue will be lowered to 30km/h

Lower speed limit, traffic calming part of a package of roadway reallocation measures

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

Beefs & Bouquets, July 15

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

‘We’re not busting ghosts’: Northern B.C. paranormal investigators check out bistro

Paranormal North Coast British Columbia recently checked out PF Bistro at City Centre Mall.

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

Twitter racing to unravel mystery cyberattack

Some of the world’s most prominent names had their Twitter accounts post invitations for an apparent Bitcoin scam

B.C. announces funding to support post-secondary students with disabilities

The province is investing $275,000 in the new BCcampus website

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Most Read