Pictured here, striking workers from a November rally in Nanaimo. (Black Press file)

Province appoints special mediators in bid to end coastal forest strike

Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready given powers to craft recommended deal to break eight-month impasse

The provincial government has finally stepped in to the strike that has crippled B.C.’s coastal forest industry since July.

The province announced Thursday morning that Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, has appointed Amanda Rogers and Vince Ready as special mediators in the eight-month collective bargaining dispute between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937.

RELATED: Mediators withdraw from talks in Western Forest Products strike

“This dispute has taken a huge toll on workers and their families as well as the entire coastal forestry community. We want to see everyone get back on the job,” Bains said in a media release. “As Minister of Labour, I have decided to appoint special mediators Ready and Rogers with additional powers under the Labour Relations Code to help the parties reach an agreement as soon as possible.”

According to the media release, the parties will be brought together by the special mediators to reach an agreement through collective bargaining. If they don’t reach an agreement, the mediators will recommend terms for settlement which each party will have five days to accept or reject. The minister of labour also can make the terms of settlement public.

“I am confident that with the assistance of two of the nation’s top mediators, and the additional powers provided to them under the Labour Relations Code by this appointment, both sides can achieve a deal that ensures the sustainability of coastal forestry jobs and supports the terms and conditions of employment important to workers,” Bains said.

RELATED: John Horgan calls for end to ‘high-grading’ B.C. forests

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