Union locals urge rejection of B.C. coast deal

Union locals representing nearly half of the roughly 7,000 striking workers in British Columbia's $2-billion coast forest sector are urging members to vote against a tentative deal announced Monday to end a nearly three-month long strike.

United Steelworkers local 1-80, representing about 1,800 workers in the Duncan area of Vancouver Island; and local 1-85, representing about 1,100 members in the Port Alberni region, also on Vancouver Island, said the deal does not address the critical issue of shift scheduling.

Ratification votes are set for later this week. If the deal is approved, workers could be back on the job as soon as next Monday. In announcing the details this week, Steelworkers leaders said the deal would "fetter company rights to impose shifts" and also includes major improvements in safety.

Local 1-80 president Bill Routley yesterday said the tentative deal gives companies too much leeway in assigning shifts, and doesn't address shortcomings of an imposed settlement that came into effect after the industry's previous strike in 2003.

The tentative deal, between Steelworkers and Forest Industrial Relations, an employer group representing 31 companies, calls for successive pay increases of 2, 3 and 4 per cent a year over a three-year term.


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