Picket lines went up at the Interfor sawmill in Castlegar Monday as part of rotating job action by the employees’ union.
Talks between the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) broke down more than a week ago and workers have been in a legal strike position since the beginning of November.
“Members will be exercising that right on an incremental basis,” according to the union.
The IFLRA and the USW have been engaged in collective bargaining since the beginning of September.
According to the IFLRA, the parties have spent 12 days in negotiations, culminating with three full days of mediation in mid-November.
“Although we are disappointed the USW has broken off talks and started job action, we would be open to returning to the table at any time to bargain a fair deal for our employees and the industry,” said IFLRA president Jeff Roos.
More than 2,600 USW members from the Cranbrook, Kamloops and Kelowna locals are affected by the negotiations.
Kootenay operations that could also see similar strike action include the Canfor mills at Elko, Radium and Woodlands, as well as the Galloway sawmill, the Stella Jones Pole Plant in Galloway, and the Louisiana Pacific plant in Golden.
The collective agreement covering forestry workers in the Northern and Southern Interior expired June 30.
In the northern part of the province 2,000 USW members have been in strike position since Oct. 6. There have been overtime bans and rotating strikes at mills across the region.