Workers at Finning Canada in Sparwood went on strike last week, protesting issues including wages and benefits.
Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers local 692 went on strike on Wednesday last week after workers voted by a margin of 89.5 per cent in favour of strike action.
“There are a number of issues we need addressed,” said Stan Pickthall, IAMAW District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative. “Wages and benefits are two issues. For our employees in the Sparwood area modified shifts are an issue, and subcontract work.”
Pickthall said that negotiations broke off on Wednesday last week, which led to strike action.
“I’m willing to meet with Finning at any time,” he said. “But no meetings have been scheduled yet.”
There are nearly 700 machinists on strike across the province.
“The bargaining team is available for further meetings with the employer but the strike will continue until Finning brings us a reasonable offer we can recommend to our membership,” said Pickthall.
The current two-year collective agreement for the B.C. and Yukon union employees expired on April 14, 2011.
“We presented an offer to the union, but because of gaps they feel there are between our offer and their expectations, they proceeded with strike action,” said Jeff Howard, Manager of Corporate Communications.
Howard said that the Finning bargaining team and the union had been attempting to hash through a deal for almost four months.
“The company has applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board for formal mediation, but the union has declined to participate,” he said.
Even though no talks are currently scheduled, Howard is hoping Finning and the union will be able to get back to the table as soon as possible.
“We’ve never had strike action with our workers in B.C. since they were unionized in 1951,” he said.
Howard said that Finning has implemented a contingency plan to minimize the impact of the labour dispute on its customers.
“Equipment and parts sales will continue to be available to customers. Shop and field services will be unavailable during the course of labour action,” said Howard.
Howard said that if Finning customers have questions or concerns they should call 1-888-FINNING.