Tolko sawmill workers set up picket lines early | Paul French

Tolko Lakeview Division employees, represented by United Steelworkers Local 1-2017, were on the picket lines bright and early this morning.

“We set up picket lines to basically try to get negotiations to move faster than what they are,” said USW 1-2017 First Vice President Paul French.

“The company seems to be adamant to take stuff away from the members and all we want to do is just get a fair agreement.”

The strike at Lakeview affects about 50 employees and French says the contractors with the construction project are also affected.

“Hopefully Tolko gets the message that we’re serious and we’re willing to defend what’s in our collective agreement,” he said.

As for if other mill employees represented by USW 1-2017 will be on strike, French says that will all depend on what will happen with negotiations in the south between the Steelworkers Union and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA).

“We’re just trying to remind them that we’re human beings and we need a collective agreement that’s fair.”

A 72-hour strike notice was issued to Conifer by United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 on October 2nd after talks broke down for Tolko operations in both Quesnel and Williams Lake, as well as the West Fraser planer operation in the Lakecity, Dunkley Lumber, and other operations in Prince George, Houston, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Mackenzie, and Fort St. John.

Tolko said on October 12th that it would be curtailing operations effective immediately at its Quest Wood operation in Quesnel due to hight log costs and poor market conditions.

– with files from Rebecca Kelli, My Cariboo Now