Striking WFP workers ‘hopeful’ as mediation continues

WatchMediation continued in Nanaimo Wednesday for a second straight day to resolve the four-and-a-half month long Western Forest Products strike.

Fresh mediation talks are sparking optimism in the B.C. coast’s forestry communities after a four-and-half-month long strike.

“I’m hoping that everything gets sorted out,” said striking Cowichan Bay Western Forest Products worker Murray Shiell.

“Slight feeling of hopefulness,” said striking Chemainus WFP worker Patrick Browne.

“There’s been so much disappointment over the last four months.”

“It’s feeling a little more promising, that they haven’t stepped away from the table, so hopefully no news is good news. ” said striking Chemainus WFP worker Greg Heyes.

On Wednesday, WFP and United Steel Workers Local 1-1937 (USW)  met for a second straight day of mediation in Nanaimo to try and resolve the strike that is draining bank accounts and economic activity fast in coastal communities.

“To not have enough money to pay your bills, pay your mortgage,” said Browne.

“Pay your truck payment. We’ve all been there and it’s horrible.”

“People [are] not going out spending money,” said Shiell.

“I don’t have the money to be spending.”

Three thousand workers have been on strike since July 1.

Despite workers being unable to pay loans, and bills as the strike stretched on, the USW wouldn’t give in to WFP demands for concessions on pensions and wages.

Now WFP has posted its latest earnings report showing major losses during the strike, and both sides appear more motivated than ever to end this.

“I don’t think anyone ever dreamed that it was going to go on this long,” said Browne.

“Hopefully they can stay at the table and get something done for Christmas.”

“If they’re not meeting then there’s not much hope right,” said striking Cowichan Bay WFP worker Jim James.

“So as long as they’re talking, that’s good.”

Due to a media blackout, neither side is commenting on the talks that continue.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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