November 17, 2018 5:45 pm

Lumber workers in B.C.’s Southern Interior may go on strike next week

The United Steelworkers union says contract talks with B.C.’s interior forest industry have broken down and strike action could start next week.

The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward

The Okanagan could be home to another strike, with lumber employees potentially setting up picket lines next week.

This, after Canada Post employees in Kelowna walked off the job for the second time in three weeks on Friday to set up 24-hour picket lines.

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According to the United Steelworkers, contract talks have broken down with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA), an organization that represents forestry employers. The United Steelworkers represents approximately 2,600 workers in southern British Columbia, according to union Local 1-423 Kelowna.

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On Friday, an ‘important notice’ was posted on Local 1-423’s Facebook page, one that said ‘rotating job action to begin.’ The letter also said USW members “in the south region have been in the legal strike position since November 3rd and agreed to provincial mediation [on] November 2nd in order to kickstart stalled negotiations that have been going on for months.”

“After making some very significant moves to break the logjam between the two parties, the industry still insisted on keeping concessions on the table and dictating conditions on bargaining,” said Bob Matters of the USW.

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The letter also said three days of mediation in Kelowna, November 14th to 16th, failed to produce an agreement. Provincial mediator Dave Schaub was reportedly booked late Friday night “after talks broke down between the two parties.”

South region workers, according to the letter, will be in official strike position on Wednesday morning, November 21st, at 10 a.m.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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