Steelworkers accept two-year agreement: 'road map' set for conclusion of forest industry strikes



    BURNABY, BC, Aug. 1 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) at
the MacKenzie Sawmill Ltd. operation in Surrey have voted to accept a two-year
collective agreement, which provides a 'road map' to facilitate the conclusion
of USW strikes against FIR-affiliated companies, Island Timberlands and
Interfor.
    MacKenzie Sawmill Ltd. is a former Interfor operation on the Fraser
River, which has a fibre supply agreement with Interfor and purchases
additional logs on the open market.
    USW Local 1-3567 members ratified an agreement that will pay wage
increases of two and three per cent in the first and second years, and will
match pension and other benefit plan increases that exist in USW-represented
mills in the BC Interior.
    Most importantly, both sides agreed to new contract language governing
alternate shift arrangements, requiring the employer to provide two weeks
notification to the union and the crew. If both sides cannot agree on an
alternate shift schedule, then an expedited arbitration process will take
place to determine the shift.
    "The agreement says that the employer must share information on the
financial state of the company with an arbitrator and the union, and that the
impact on workers' safety and other considerations must be considered in the
process," said USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt.
    The agreement also includes protection against contracting out and
provides severance pay in the event of partial closure.
    "The MacKenzie agreement hits the target with our members on main issues
that struck employers on the Coast have not yet agreed to resolve," said USW
Wood Council Chair Bob Matters. "This agreement should serve to get all
parties back to the bargaining tables as soon as possible."
    Local 1-3567 President Brian Harder said the agreement includes
agreed-upon improvements already negotiated with Forest Industrial Relations,
Interfor and Island Timberlands.
    "The strikes we are on are not about money issues," said Harder. "They
are about the principles of dignity and respect for workers and the protection
of workers' rights."





For further information:

For further information: Steve Hunt, (604) 683-1117/(604) 816-2554; Bob
Matters, (604) 683-1117; (604)996-4476


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