2 days after walking away, mediators Vince Ready, Amanda Rogers hired back to B.C. forestry strike

Click to play video: 'New plan to end Western Forest Products labour dispute' New plan to end Western Forest Products labour dispute
The province is appointing special mediators in the long-running Western Forest Products labour dispute. Keith Baldrey has the latest. – Feb 6, 2020

Two days after veteran mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers walked away from a prolonged forestry strike on Vancouver Island, the pair has been appointed back to the job.

According to Western Forest Products (WFP), the duo pulled the plug on stalled talks with the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 (USW) Tuesday “as they [saw] no basis for a negotiated settlement at this time.”

But it appears Labour Minister Harry Bains sees the situation differently, hiring the pair back as special mediators “with additional powers under the Labour Relations Code to help the parties reach an agreement as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: Mediators pull out of talks in bitter, 8-month Vancouver Island forestry strike

According to Bains, Ready and Rogers will bring the two sides back to the bargaining table to try and hash out a deal.

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If they can’t reach an agreement, Bains says the mediators will be able to recommend a settlement that each side has five days to accept or reject. The minister may also make the settlement terms public.

“I am confident that with the assistance of two of the nation’s top mediators, and the additional powers provided to them under the Labour Relations Code by this appointment, both sides can achieve a deal that ensures the sustainability of coastal forestry jobs and supports the terms and conditions of employment important to workers,” Bains said in a statement.

READ MORE: B.C. labour minister pledges decision on stalled forestry strike talks ‘within 24 hours’

WFP says it’s been told the mediators will have a period of 10 days try and reach a deal, before proposing a settlement.

“With the appointment of the Special Mediators we are hopeful that this process will soon result in a fair and equitable agreement that recognizes the contributions of our employees while maintaining the sustainability of the industry that Western, our employees, contractors, communities and customers rely on,” said WFP president and CEO Don Demens.

Global News has requested comment from the union.

Nearly 3,000 employees and contracted workers at six Vancouver Island manufacturing plants and timberlands around the coast have been on strike since July 1.

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Premier John Horgan has described the strike, now in its eighth month, as “unprecedented.” However, until now the NDP government has resisted intervening, aside from offering $5 million in bridge loans to contractors at risk of losing their equipment.

The opposition BC Liberals are calling for an industrial inquiry commission to help break the impasse.

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