Convention ends in Merger Proposal
week’s convention of the Industrial Wood and Allied Workers of Canada,
the IWA-Canada, in Kelowna
last week was anything but sleepy, as delegates voted to consider
another organization after dealing with issues of harsh industry
an oppressive BC government and a clash with other unions.
across the country reported on numerous issues and situations. However,
dominated much of the three-day convention, as the union struggles
major concession and contracting-out demands by forest industry bosses
BC government on the coast and Interior, damaging forest policies of
Liberal regime and the economic hardship on forest communities
coastal IWA members have voted to strike against what they say are some
harshest corporate demands ever.
Dave Haggard told the convention, “The FIR (Forest Industrial
bargaining agency for forest companies) has refused to negotiate
even put forward a serious bargaining position. I invite them to come
the table and deal with the issues.”
said he was relieved to receive a telephone request to resume
FIR boss Terry Lineker, who later told the press that he felt there is
at stake to allow the impasse to continue and risk a confrontation. But
acknowledged there are deep divisions between the industry’s workers
leaders, and it will be a difficult process to bridge these gaps.
"We made an invitation to
return to the bargaining table and he has
responded positively," said Scott Alexander, communications officer at
FIR, the bargaining agent for 61 coastal forest companies.
forest operations are also in turmoil, as forest company bosses are
a reduction in log hauling fees from truck logging contractors. That is
concern for the union, since many of its members work for truck logging
contractors or directly for forest companies as owner-operators.
"This is the
first time that all the truckers from all the area
mills have gotten in the same room and agreed on the same principles,
agreed to stick together," said IWA Local 1-425 financial secretary
Tate, whose local includes about 200 own-op truckers, in a press
"This is where you draw the line in the sand."
while he is ready to work with industry bosses on concerns
of rising costs, he insists the union will not be used as a cash cow to
the industry’s woes, which he says appears what bosses are looking for.
trying to blame everyone else for their failure to invest in
upgrading aging mills,” he said. “Now they figure the rest us should
pick up the tab.”
union is also facing an internal squabble over the recent move
by one of its locals, 1-357 in the Fraser Valley, to organize poorly
treated workers at newly privatized health care facilities, in
run by multinational firms like Compass, thereby undermining the
efforts of the
Hospital Employees Union, many of whose members have been fired when
public facilities contracted out their jobs to these private firms—a
the BC Liberal regime’s Bill 29, passed last year.
that local has been signing labour contracts with these
firms prior to them hiring any employees and that call for wage rates
as low as
$9 an hour, about half of the standard HEU public health rates, and no
or seniority protection.
privatized operations recently organized by the HEU call
for wages rates much higher than those of the IWA and include benefits,
seniority protection and other on-the-job freedoms. They also call for
as much as
possible the re-hiring HEU members who lost their jobs as a result of
development has landed the IWA in hot water with both the
Canadian Labour Congress and several unions affiliated to the BC
Finally, the delegates voted
to consider joining with another union in order to stand up to the
power of large corporations and the governments they support. Although
55,000-member IWA has maintained aggressive organizing campaigns, other
health care situation, delegates felt the need to study a merger idea.
approval of such a move would have to be voted on by the entire union