The union representing the forestry workers in a months-long coastal B.C. strike says the mediators have contacted them and Western Forest Products.
According to United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, arbitrators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers emailed the union and Western Forest Products (WFP) on Jan. 24 to ask if they would return to mediation, offering mediation dates of Jan. 25, 26 and Feb. 1, 2 and 3.
The union’s bargaining committee responded and said they could meet on all those dates.
According to the union, WFP responded on Jan. 29 and said the company was available on Feb. 2.
“Hopefully WFP comes to the table this weekend prepared to change its position on alternate shifting, make revisions to its Drug and Alcohol Policy and withdraw its concessions.”
In a statement to CHEK News Thursday, a Western spokesperson says the company will meet with the mediators first “and we will take our lead from them on next steps.”
Striking workers who were on the picket line north of Campbell River Thursday said the prospect of both sides returning to the bargaining table is good news.
“Well, it’s a step in the right direction because you have to talk to get anything done,” said Rick Dorman.
“You get your hopes up and one time it’s got to happen and let’s hope this is the time because we’ve had enough, we just want to get back to work,” added Brent Williams.
The strike began on July 1. The action affects about 3,000 coastal forest workers employed in Western Forest Products sawmills and timberlands operations in the province. The union says the strike is over the potential loss of pensions, seniority rights and long-term disability benefits.
In December, Western Forest Products announced that a round of talks the union had collapsed and negotiations had reached an impasse.
With files from CBC