Union says Western Forest Products continues to profit during strike

Kendall Hanson | CHEK News
Wood products being loaded in the Port Alberni Harbour. Striking Steelworkers say the shipments are benefiting Western Forest Products.

Representatives from the striking Steelworkers Union say that Western Forest Products (WFP) is shipping products using replacement workers.

At the Port Alberni Harbour, Union representatives say they are setting up a legal picket line to disrupt the loading of logs they say are WFP products onto vessels.

“We’re setting up a legal picket outside of the shipyard here,” said Chris Cinkant, a Business Agent with the Steelworkers Union. “Western is making some profits off of this, and it’s our job to apply economic pressure.”

Cinkant says that as long as WFP can continue to make a profit while the strike proceeds, the Union’s bargaining position will be weakened. “It’s a concern to us because Western is making a profit off it, this, in turn, has them prolong the strike. We’ve got families out there that are hungry. We’ve got 3,000 members. This is the fourth month.”

The United Steelworkers say they’ve applied to the Labour Relations Board to rule the logs owned by Western Forest Products shouldn’t have left the company’s property. The union would like those logs, which are just a portion of what’s on the ship offloaded.

After interviewing with CHEK News Cinkant left Port Alberni for Vancouver to attend the labour relations hearing Saturday evening.

Western Forest Products would only confirm they will be attending the hearing to represent their side of this latest dispute.

On Sunday, Sinkant informed CHEK News that their application to the Labour Relations Board to have the logs offloaded from the ships was denied.

“We were unsuccessful in our application,” Sinkant said. “The wood was sold to IT (Island Timberlands), for the purpose of exporting that wood.”

Sinkant says that the striking workers do not have a right to the wood at this point, but the Union would be “exploring all our legal options.”

Sinkant added that the Union would return to picket the site, and would ask people not to work in the area and respect the picket line.


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