Public and Private Workers of Canada union members at the Crofton Paper Excellence mill have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.
A strike vote taken on Monday and Tuesday resulted in a 99.71 per cent result in favour of a strike, with 87 per cent of the membership voting. The company served 72 hours’ notice on Wednesday morning, putting the union in a strike position on Saturday, Oct. 22.
The union negotiating committee has met with the company several times since then to bargain a new collective agreement. PPWC Local 2 president Geoff Dawe said the union has been working more than a year and a half without a contract since the expiration of the last agreement.
“Our brothers and sisters of Local 2 have gone above and beyond to help the company year after year, all while making seven per cent less money than all of the other unionized mills in British Columbia,” reads a statement issued Friday by Dawe on behalf of the union. “We feel that Local 2 deserves fair wages and equality (parity) with the other mills in the province. It is the fair and equitable thing to do during these trying and uncertain economic times.
“Local 2 members deserve to be compensated and acknowledged for doing their job and doing it well. Be it overtime hours, which takes them away from their families – yet they do so willingly even with the risk of physical and mental exhaustion, all in an effort to keep the mill fully operational – but also by ensuring that the business is a profitable one (as was evident with sales of $2.4B in 2021). The workers should absolutely be the bearers of the fruit that they help create for making the company as profitable as it is.”
Paper Excellence issued a media statement late Friday afternoon.
“Since July 2022, the company has been negotiating with PPWC Local 2, which represents 370 of the 575 employees that work at the site,” the statement reads. “Those discussions have recently hit an impasse, and the company’s mediation request was rejected by the union. The negotiations committee will continue to meet as they try to resolve the situation.
“To protect the health and safety of employees, the integrity of the local environment, and preserve the company’s assets at Crofton, Paper Excellence has begun a controlled and orderly shutdown of the kraft pulp mill and mechanical paper operations. Paper Excellence is deeply disappointed by the impasse in negotiations with PPWC and their rejection of the mediation process. Paper Excellence hopes for a speedy return to discussions and the restart of the Crofton facility.”