The BC Federation of Labour is showing solidarity with striking forestry workers.
It’s announced a “hot edict” on Western Forest Products. That means BCFED members and its affiliated unions have been asked to no longer handle WFP coastal lumber, log and wood products. The United Steelworkers, which represents the striking forestry workers, is welcoming the move.
“The announcement of a ‘hot edict’ is a significant but necessary escalation in what is frankly an employer-initiated dispute” said President of the BCFED, Laird Cronk. “Through the solidarity of affiliated unions, the company’s products could lay dormant.”
BCFED says over 2,600 Steelworkers employed by WFP on Vancouver Island are on strike to save their pensions, seniority rights and long-term disability from being cut by the company.
The federation calls WFP’s attempts to introduce a two-tier pay system for new employees, eliminate the current pension plan, and roll back a number of other parts of the collective agreement an “attack on its own employees.”
“The company is attempting these draconian roll-backs to worker benefits and rights despite continued profitability,” said Steven Hunt, Director of USW District 3.
According to WFP’s 2017 and 2018 financial reports, the company made over a billion dollars in sales and made a net profit of $74.4 million and $69.2 million respectively. In addition, the salary of the CEO has steadily increased from $1.5 million in 2015 to $2 million in 2017, and from $500,000 in 2015 to $1.2 million in 2017 for the Vice President.
USW Local 1-1937 says it wants a new agreement that ensures workers are treated with respect, share in the success of WFP and that benefits that have been successfully achieved in previous bargaining are protected.