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Northern Forestry workers to take part in strike vote

More than 1,500 forestry workers at 13 different work sites across Northern BC, including facilities in Fort Saint James, Prince George, and Hixon are expected to participate in a strike vote.

United Steelworkers Wood Council Chair Bob Matters confirms mills in the Cariboo that will be taking part in the vote include Tolko’s operations in both Williams Lake and Quesnel, as well as West Fraser’s planer operation in Williams Lake.

He says they met for the fifth round of bargaining Monday with the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (Conifer).

“We’ve been bargaining with the employers association in Northern British Columbia-Conifer, and Conifer and a number of companies don’t seem to take our member’s issues seriously.”

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“They haven’t agreed to anything at all yet so we have to take a strike vote in order to move this to the next level.”

The union has proposed changes to the collective agreement that includes leave for members struggling with domestic violence, union representation, and pension funding improvement.

Everything from pensions to benefits, to hours of work and contract language according to Matters is an issue.

“We expect the vote will conclude within two weeks,” he said.

USW Local 1-2017 President, Brian O’Rourke says their goal is to get a fair contract for their members.

“The employers are having one of the best economic years in decades and workers should share in this prosperity.”

with files from Rebecca Kelli, My Cariboo Now

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