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Posted: November 25, 2021

Commission to recommend protections for forestry workers

A new provincial commission will provide advice on strengthening the long-term stability of jobs and economic recovery in B.C.’s forestry industry.

Government has appointed an industrial inquiry commission (IIC) to recommend ways to protect workers when contract tendering and the transfer of cutting and timber-harvesting rights fall outside of section 35 of the Labour Code.

Section 35 ensures that the collective bargaining rights of employees are protected when a business or part of it is sold, leased, transferred or otherwise disposed of.

“This commission is the first step in improving protections for impacted workers. We need fair and reasonable approaches to update contract tendering and, in turn, to increase job security,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “From my personal experience working in the forestry industry, I know it’s tough work and workers deserve to have their collective agreement terms and conditions protected.”

Bains has appointed Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers to form the commission. Ready has nearly 40 years’ experience in arbitration and mediation in numerous sectors, including forestry. Rogers is an arbitrator, mediator and lawyer specializing in workplace conflict resolution.

The terms of reference for the commission’s scope of work include delivering a final report and recommendations to government by Feb. 10, 2022.

Forming the IIC builds on the recommendations government received from the 2018 independent review of the Labour Relations Code, which identified forestry industry successorship protections as an area that needed further consultation, study and analysis.

Strengthening successorship protections aligns with the broader collaborative work happening across government on forestry. The commission will use the review’s recommendations as a starting point for its research. Its findings will help guide future labour relations decision-making on union successorship issues in the forestry sector.

“As part of our new vision for forestry, we are committed to ensuring workers benefit from sustainable, innovative jobs for generations to come,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “By striking this commission, we’re taking our next step to help build a diversified and inclusive forestry sector that provides good, family-supporting jobs across the province.”

In June 2021, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development released the intentions paper, Modernizing Forest Policy in B.C.: Setting the Intention and Leading the Forest Sector with a new vision for B.C.’s forests.

The intentions paper included a commitment to protect good jobs and support workers by considering the role of labour in tenure transfers, continuing to ensure the sustainability of contractors and advancing the need for an industrial inquiry commission.

Read the report, Recommendations for Amendments to the Labour Relations Code.

e-KNOW file photo

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