Western Forest Products striking workers rally held in Nanaimo

WatchUnion representing 3000 forestry workers calls for the company to return to the negotiating table.

It was a unionized show of force on Wednesday afternoon to send a message to Western Forest Products as the strike continues.

Close to 500 forestry workers and supporters marched several blocks to the company’s Nanaimo offices.

They’re calling on Western Forest Products to negotiate a fair contract to end a four-month-old strike.

“I don’t know about you but I think they’re defining a lower standard for working people,” said Bill Routley

Last week the company asked to go to binding arbitration. An option that was quickly dismissed by the United Steelworkers  Local 1-1937 because it says that hasn’t gone well for the union in the past.

In a statement Wednesday, the company says B.C.’s forest industry is facing “weak markets, low commodity lumber prices, competition from subsidized producers, and substantially higher costs. We are committed to reaching an agreement that recognizes the contributions of our employees while ensuring we remain globally competitive.”

“Their inability to understand that in today’s market place where they’re making millions of dollars, record profits year after year is hardly the time to introduce massive concessions,” said Brian Butler, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937.

The company says it’s also asked to go back to mediation.

“This company has been out publicly saying how they want to get to the mediation table and get a deal. Well then, I don’t know why they haven’t returned my phone calls since last Thursday to get back to mediation?” said Butler.

Worker’s say it’s been extremely stressful not getting paid for four months but they’re holding out hope the company will change its position soon.

“For sure they’re losing customers so I think they realize they have to start coming to an agreement and that’s kind of what we’re thinking too,” said Ron Lange, a Steelworkers member from Port Alberni.

Worker’s are maintaining they’re prepared to stay out as long as necessary with no end to the strike in sight.

The union held its last rally in Campbell River in September.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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