Steelworkers Put Forest Industrial Relations On Notice

United Steelworkers union served 72-hour strike notice to association reps after contract talk failures.

BURNABY, B.C. (CP) - The United Steelworkers union has served 72-hour strike notice against Forest Industrial Relations, an association representing 31 companies that employ more than 4,500 USW members in the B.C. coastal forest industry.

Contract talks, which began in mid-March, have failed to resolve ''serious outstanding issues,'' USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt said Wednesday in a release.

''FIR is unable to provide us with proposals that adequately address fundamental issues, including scheduling hours of work, contracting out and severance pay for partial closures in logging and manufacturing,'' he said.

The union's negotiating committee is set to continue contract talks with Island Timberlands on Wednesday and International Forest Products on Thursday. But the union has not served 72-hour strike notice against either company.

USW Wood Council chairman Bob Matters said strike action has been rare in the B.C. forest industry, with only seven coastal strikes since 1937, usually during challenging economic times to protect the security of the union itself.

''Today, we are in a dispute about principled issues,'' he said. ''These employers want to retain total control over their employees, continue to contract out union jobs, export logs out of the province and undermine the security of workers, our families and coastal communities.''

 

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