It’s relief for Western Forest Products workers after a grueling seven and a half month-long strike that took a devastating toll on Island communities.
The Western Forest products workers are now waiting to hear when they’ll be back on the job after voting in favour of a new deal.
Dale Marsh is among them. He’s hoping to be back at his job at Western Forest Product’s Cowichan Bay log sort as soon as possible.
He was thrilled to learn yesterday more than 80 per cent of workers voted in favour of a new collective contract.
“A party, excitement. We’re going back to work and it’s great,” said Marsh.
“I’m just so happy,” said Dianna Marsh, his wife.
“Just so happy that all these guys are able to get back to work.”
Marsh was among 3,000 unionized worker’s who were on strike seven and a half months. It was the longest in B.C. coastal forest history and it had a devastating impact on Island families and communities.
“People had to dip into their trust funds or their retirement,” said Marsh.
The new five-year-deal will see a 12.5 per cent wage increase but it’s not yet clear when workers will be back on the job.
The company’s CEO Don Demens said in a release “While our goal is to begin operating as soon as possible, start-up will be contingent on availability of employees and contractors, market demand, weather conditions and sufficient log supply.”
“Western has applied massive concessions at the start of this round of bargaining. Those concessions stayed on the table to the very end, until the last day of bargaining,” said Brian Butler, President of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937.
“Once concessions were removed we could reach an agreement.”
As for Dale Marsh, he calculates he lost $44,000 in wages in a strike that took a toll on so many people.
“Homes lost, finances, but the community came together,” said an emotional Dale Marsh.
“Communities outreaches from everywhere and you know our son was able to play hockey this year which is really exciting and we thank everybody who was able to help with that,” said Dianna Marsh.
The Marsh family’s now looking forward to getting paycheques again as life gets back to normal.