Employees represented by United Steelworkers 1-2017 joined those negotiating in the north with employer group CONIFER last week, by walking off the job Friday morning in Williams Lake, BC, at Tolko’s Soda Creek Division and West Fraser’s Planer, said My Prince George Now.
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This new rotating strike in Williams Lake affects more than 200 workers. Talks are scheduled between USW and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) Friday in Kelowna.
CONIFER member companies Babine Forest Products Ltd, Canfor operations in Fort St. John, Houston, Isle Pierre, and PG Sawmill, Conifex in Fort St. James and Mackenzie, Dunkley Lumber Ltd., Lakeland Mills, Tolko’s Lakeview, Quest Wood, and Soda Creek Divisions, and West Fraser’s Williams Lake Planer have been in a legal strike position since October 6th.
Their collective agreement expired on June 30th, 2018.
Prince George saw and chip mill workers set up picket lines on October 25th.
In probably not unrelated news, sawmill production, including the Prince George, BC, Sawmill, will be curtailed during 4Q by Canfor, the company announced Friday.
Canfor would temporarily cut back due to log supply constraints, log costs, and current market conditions. The curtailment is expected to reduce Canfor’s British Columbia production output by about 10 per cent throughout 4Q 2018. This will be achieved through immediate short-term curtailments at some facilities, along with extended downtime at Christmas. Canfor has 13 sawmills in Canada, with total annual capacity of approximately 3.8 billion board feet.
According to the Terrace Standard, the District of Houston released a statement Friday saying the municipality has been in contact with Canfor and is aware of the temporary reduction in operating hours at its Houston sawmilling complex.
According to Canfor, lumber production will be reduced over the quarter through a decrease in operating days.
The move comes as the union representing about 1,600 workers at 13 northern B.C. sawmills – including Canfor’s PG Sawmill and Isle Pierre sawmills – continue a campaign of rotating strikes in a bid to win a new contract. Members of United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 were picketing Tolko’s Soda Creek operation in Williams Lake on Thursday, said the Prince George Citizen Friday.
As well, members of three USW locals representing about 3,500 sawmill workers in the southern Interior have voted in favour of giving their bargaining committee a strike mandate.