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Nov 18, 2019

Western Forest negotiations with striking workers break down

Bryden Teich discusses Western Forest Products

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VANCOUVER - Western Forest Products Inc. says negotiations with the United Steelworkers union in a long-running coastal B.C. strike ended without resolution on the weekend.

The company says no active negotiations are occurring and no future mediation dates have been scheduled after 14 hours of bargaining occurred on Saturday and Sunday supervised by two independent mediators.

CEO Don Demens says the mediators informed the company talks were over after it presented a contract offer to the union on Sunday.

In a post on its website late Monday, however, United Steelworkers president Brian Butler accuses the company of “game-playing” and says Western Forest left the table instead of responding to the union's last contract offer on Sunday.

Demens says the company offered a five-year agreement with a $2,000 signing bonus and wage increases of two per cent per year for the first four years and 2.5 per cent in the fifth year.

The union says it wants a four-year deal with raises of three per cent in the first two years and 2.5 per cent in the last two.

The strike which began July 1 affects about 3,000 coastal forest workers employed in Western Forest Products' sawmills and timberlands operations.

Western's shares lost four cents or 3.1 per cent to $1.23 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.