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MP calls on Western Forest Products to reach deal with striking workers

Rachel Blaney is urging Western Forest Products to “take the necessary steps” to reach a deal with striking forestry workers.

In an open letter to the company, the North Island-Powell River MP says the ongoing labour dispute “has gone on too long and is causing significant harm to the communities I represent.”

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 have been on the picket lines since Canada Day.

Blaney says Western Forest Products has it is within its power to get people back to work.

In her letter the MP recognizes that the forestry industry is managed by the province and is not a federal jurisdiction, but says that as an elected community leader she must add her voice to the mayors and councils and others calling for an end to the damage the strike is doing.

“I have visited the picket lines and spoken with workers, skilled and hardworking coastal people; some are veterans who have been through this before, for some this is a new and unexpected experience. All of them would rather be working than standing outside holding picket signs, but they don’t want to give up benefits that were fought for and agreed to by workers that came before them, and that made a career in forestry and a life in their coastal community part of their plan for the future.”

Blaney’s letter says as the strike goes on “families are struggling, young people are leaving our communities and businesses are facing closures. This isn’t only the case for those on the picket lines, but also contractors who can’t work and whose equipment is caught up in the dispute, as well as other local businesses who provide goods and services in communities where forestry is a major employer.”

She’s calling on Western Forest Products to, at the very least, resume coverage of employee benefits during the strike.

Blaney ended the letter by writing “It is disappointing that the most recent bargaining session didn’t conclude with an agreement, but that work must continue until it does. I urge both parties to get back to the table as soon as possible, as that is the only way to get people back to work, which is what we all want to see.”

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