Unionized workers are on strike this morning at the Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake, impacting about 50 unionized workers and another 50 contractors. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

Mill workers at Tolko Lakeview division in Williams Lake are on strike as of Tuesday morning, Oct. 16.

A couple dozen workers were on the picket line before the sun came up at 4 a.m. to send a message to negotiators that employees are serious about their demands, said Paul French, vice president of the Steelworkers union who was on site.

“We are here because collective bargaining is not going well,” French said.

Motorists travelling past the mill along Highway 20 in the City of Williams Lake honked and waved in support. About 50 unionized workers and 50 contractors are impacted by the job action.

The strike comes the morning that negotiations are scheduled to continue at meetings in Kelowna between Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) and the Steelworkers union, after talks broke down with Council of Northern Interior Forest Industry Relations (Conifer) last week.

Conifer executive director Michael Bryce told the Tribune Tuesday the IFLRA bargaining process is independent of Conifer.

“We were in mediation up until Sept. 28,” Bryce said. “Conifer did make an offer of settlement to the union in mediation. “At the core was a five-year term with a two per cent wage increase in each year for the employees. Unfortunately, the union saw the overall flavour of that offer as not adequate and withdrew from the mediation process. The implication of that is they would in a position to serve strike notice.”

The first step in strike action started over a week ago when union workers began to refuse all overtime work, French said.

The union issued strike notice just before the Thanksgiving long weekend and are in a legal position to strike.

At the heart of the matter is a demand for contract concessions, said French.

“The company wants to claw back things that we fought for and have won years ago,” French said.

“We don’t want to give anything up. We just want a fair deal.”

Bryce said in any bargaining process the union and the employer bring subjects to the table that require resolution from each perspective agenda.

“We have a small component of our agenda still live in the process,” he added.

Tolko operations in Quesnel shut down on the weekend impacting about 100 workers. The company has said market log costs and recovery were the reason for the closure, which is being reviewed on a week by week basis.

This article was updated from the original version earlier Tuesday with comments from Conifer.

Read More: Steelworkers union issues strike notice affecting 1,500 mill workers in northern B.C.

Read More: Forestry workers’ union bans employee overtime as strike looms


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Most Read