The United Steelworkers opted to take strike action last summer and the USW and Western Forest Products are still at odds over concessions.
Very little progress has been made between the two sides and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 President Brian Butler said Western picked the wrong fight with the wrong union at the wrong time.
“They (union members) want safe shifts that aren’t going to end up killing someone on the job, they want policies in place that are going to keep their dignity intact, they’re not going to agree to have their jobs contracted out, not now, not ever,” said Butler.
“We had a strike in 1986 for four and a half months and we’ve been on strike for six months now,” said Butler. “Our membership stands united and we will not agree to anything that is a concession.”
Butler said a number of Mayor’s and councils across Vancouver Island have pressed the provincial government to legislate employees back to work, but back-to-work legislation back in 2004 and the stripping of worker rights to safe shifts paved the way for this work stoppage.
“Any solution not found at the bargaining table is going to be detrimental to workers and something that we can’t support, we’ve seen that before and we can’t go down that (road) again,” said Butler.
The reason we’re on strike now is because of rights that were stripped from us in a binding process in 2004 and more of the same isn’t going to fix the problem,” said Butler. ”
Despite what Butler calls an unwillingness of Western to return to the bargaining table, Western said it’s “fully committed to doing everything it can to reach a mutually beneficial settlement.”
Butler said he’s proud of the strength and solidarity union members have shown during this labour strike.
He added that the unity and sense of purpose, among members, to make their workplaces safe and their jobs secure is inspiring.