Strike in Kitimat Enters Second Week
Kitimat, B.C. – The strike in the District of Kitimat has entered its second week.
127 members of Unifor Local 2300 walked off the job Saturday February, 28th after both sides failed to reach a collective agreement.
No new talks have been scheduled says the union’s bargaining agent Martin McIIwrath.
“It’s very frustrating because right now you’ve got over 100 families that are on the streets, they’ve been without a paycheck for their families.”
He says the main sticking points include more than just wages.
“There’s seniority issues, there’s health and safety issues, there’s training issues, there’s harassment issues, there’s contracting out issues, there’s a lot of things going on. It’s a sick workplace and it needs healing.”
Kitimat’s chief administrative officer Ron Poole says the District’s final offer included yearly pay increases of 2.5% for three years.
He also acknowledges there’s room for improvement when it comes to things like training and safety, but expresses surprise at allegations of harassment in the workplace.
“If there is harassment it comes as a surprise because we do have a harassment policy. I’m a pretty sensitive administrator on not allowing that stuff to happen in the organization,” he says.
“So whether it’s we’re just caught up in negotiations and things are maybe highlighted more than usual I don’t know but I’m definitely sensitive to improving the work environment if anything like that exists.”
The strike has closed both arenas in town along with the recreation centre.
Poole says that’s already cost Kitimat a minor hockey tournament which was moved to Terrace.
The union says that was completely avoidable.
“It’s sad because the whole town has to suffer through something like this but the issue here is that if we could have been making progress, none of that would have had to have happened,” he says.
“We’ve done everything we could to avoid a labour dispute, we went two months past the expiry of our collective agreement.”