Steelworkers ratify coast forest agreement



    Close vote signals need for industry to listen to its workforce

    BURNABY, BC, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - Members in five locals of the United
Steelworkers (USW) have voted 51 per cent in favour of an agreement reached
last week with Forest Industrial Relations (FIR).
    The vote ends a 13-week strike by more than 6,000 workers employed by FIR
member companies and other smaller employers. The strike, which started July
21, continues against Interfor, TimberWest and Island Timberlands.
    The ratified agreement provides a new process that must be followed
before alternate shifts can be implemented, as well as a breakthrough clause
providing severance pay for partial closures and major improvements in safety,
including contract language that assures the right to refuse unsafe or
hazardous work. The contract also requires forest companies to ensure that
transport is available for injured contractors and sub-contractors.
    The three-year agreement also provides yearly wage increases of two per
cent, three per cent and two per cent, bringing the basic pay rate from $23.26
to $24.92 by the third year.
    "This was a difficult set of negotiations and I am proud of the
solidarity of our members," said USW Wood Council Chair Bob Matters. "In the
current tough economic situation - a rising Canadian dollar, stagnant lumber
market, the Harper-Bush lumber deal, we not only kept up solidarity on our
picket lines but had support from Steelworkers and our allies across North
America. It is clear proof that solidarity and determination work."
    USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt said, "the narrow margin of
acceptance means BC's forestry workers remain concerned about the future.
Employers should take the time to listen to their employees."





For further information:

For further information: Steve Hunt, (604) 816-2554; Bob Matters, (604)
966-4476


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