Islands forest workers likely won’t be going on strike in the next week, although legally they could strike at any time, according to an IWA representative.
A total of 12,000 coastal forest workers are waiting to see if the 61 member companies of Forest Industrial Relations will accept their latest contract offer.
IWA coastal members are not planning to strike at this time, says Kim Pollock, IWA’s National Director of Environment and Public Relations. They will probably wait for the employers’ response to their contract offer.
Last Thursday, IWA negotiators voted unanimously in favour of presenting an offer to coastal companies and asked the Labour Board to order a final offer vote of Forest Industrial Relations member companies on the proposal.
The IWA and the companies resumed stalled negotiations on Sept. 29 after a nearly 90 per cent strike vote by frustrated union members earlier in the month.
The proposed contract is similar to those negotiated in the southern and some parts of the northern interior, says the IWA. The six-year contract includes 11 per cent wage increases and other benefits.
The union proposes a “coast restructuring period” until June 15, 2004 that includes monthly, facilitated meetings about how to reduce operational costs.
“The poison pill for both sides in our proposal is the ability to cancel the six-year contract next year if the restructuring efforts are not successful,” says IWA president Dave Haggard.
For now, IWA, the companies and the Labour Relations Board are trying to sort out if a vote will even occur. FIR has filed a legal challenge to the IWA’s request for a vote, says Clive Lytle, the Labour Relations Board’s information officer. For now lawyers for FIR and IWA will meet, and it will take at least a week, maybe two, to sort it all out, he says.
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