Workers at the Interfor sawmill in Castlegar went on strike Monday as part of rotating job action by the United Steelworkers. Photo: USW #140-5

South Country forestry workers could strike any day: union

USW launches job action after talks with industry break down

South Country forestry workers could walk off the job “any day” as part of rotating job action by the employees’ union.

Talks between the United Steelworkers (USW) and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) broke down more than a week ago and workers have been in a legal strike position since the beginning of November.

Picket lines went up at the Interfor sawmill in Castlegar on Monday as 160 workers protested unfair conditions proposed by the IFLRA.

As of press time Tuesday, operations at Canfor Elko Sawmill, Galloway Sawmill and Stella Jones Pole Plant in Galloway had not been affected by the job action.

“We’re doing rotating strikes,” said USW Local 1-405 President Doug Singer on Monday.

“There’s nothing at this point but it could happen any day.”

Last week, The Free Press reported the union had hired a provincial mediator after talks between the two parties broke down.

LOOK BACK: South Country forestry workers plan strike action

USW is calling for a fair collective agreement but says there has been little movement by the industry since negotiations began five months ago.

According to Singer, it’s the first time in 32 years forestry workers have been forced into strike action.

“It definitely will have an impact on communities and families over the time period,” he said.

“It depends on how long it goes on for. We’re determined to take whatever action necessary to get a fair agreement for our members.”

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