Special mediators appointed in forestry worker strike

BC government appoints special mediators to try to force settlement in eight-month strike

More than 3,000 coastal sawmill workers have been on strike since July 2019. | ANDREW A. DUFFY, Victoria Times-Colonist

Shares for Western Forest Products (TSX:WEF) ticked up a few cents this morning on the news that BC Labour Minister Harry Bains has appointed two special mediators to try to end an eight-month long strike.

Bains has appointed Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers as special mediators to try to resolve what has been said to be the longest strike in B.C.

"This dispute has taken a huge toll on workers and their families as well as the entire coastal forestry community. We want to see everyone get back on the job," Bains said in a press release.

“As Minister of Labour, I have decided to appoint special mediators Ready and Rogers with additional powers under the Labour Relations Code to help the parties reach an agreement as soon as possible."

More than 3,000 sawmill workers with United Steelworkers (USW) have been on strike since July 2019. It has taken a toll on coastal communities like Campbell River and Port McNeil, and on independent logging contractors.

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement through mediated collective bargaining, Bains said the mediators can recommend a settlement to the provincial government.

“If the parties don't reach an agreement, the mediators will provide the parties and the minister with recommended terms for settlement which they will have five days to accept or reject,” the government said in a press release.

What happens then is anyone’s guess. The government news release doesn’t say what it can or will do, if both parties reject the settlement.