January 26, 2015
Since our last board meeting a lot has happened with the Local Union. Our members at Endako received notice of suspension of operations effective the first week of February. At this time we are not able to get a projected length on the suspension, we will have about ten members looking after the operation.
Mines within our Local Union have been shutting down one operation after another. A few of the members have gone to work at Mount Milligan. Last weekend a job fair was hosted in Fraser Lake to help assist our members in finding other employment. Plateau (Canfor) has hired some trades as did (Babine) Hampton.
Last week the resource forum was held in town, speaker after speaker talked about the importance of our resource sector to the economy of the Province.
Each of us know that resources are very important, but did you know that coal is worth 3.1 billion dollars or that molly is worth 150 million, gold brings in 304 million, zinc 628 million. The highest economic driver for the Province is wood, which delivers 16.1 billion to our economy. However, as the Canadian dollar continues to go down against the American dollar our exported products bring more money as they are sold in US dollars, which bring us to another issue that has wreaked havoc in the wood products sales into the USA.
While at the conference I took the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Forest to put forward the need for us as the union to be involved with the Soft Wood Lumber issue, which is up for renewal. We will be meeting with them shortly for an exchange and an updated.
Another project that the local is working on is the Environment and the Economy. Our committee of about fifteen people from all different walks of life, are working on protecting the environment while ensuring we have good paying jobs, our mandate is to produce a report by the end of this year.
NST/ Canada Jobs Grant
The local Union has received a final extension to the NST pilot program, which takes us to March 31, 2015. In October we applied to the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Labour for a proposal under the new Canada Jobs Grant. This new agreement would see our Northern Skills Training Center act as the industry coordinator assisting employers in the development of training plans and preparing all forms and applications for funding through the grant. We signed the new agreement on December 23rd 2014. This agreement covers the same boundaries as NST.
This new funding model is employer driven and all training or courses must be approved by the employer. Under the new funding model the Government of Canada and Province of BC contribute 2/3 of the cost and the company 1/3.
Under this new program, Trades and apprentices are NOT excluded from the company submitting training plans, which is excellent news for all our trades and apprentices. In our view there is no excuse why industry can’t take advantage of this and provide the skills training and courses our trade’s people have been demanding for years. It only makes sense that they be given the opportunity to enhance their skills to meet the ever changing technology our operations are incorporating into the operations.
We are pleased with the results achieved with the NST pilot and the effort our members undertook to improve their skills and take training and courses that will improve their ability to advance in their operations and meet the challenges of new technology. Over 1200 members across the North have accessed the NST program since it started in Nov 2011 with a funding budget to the end of March that exceeded $3.7 million dollars
At the District level Bro. Gerry Smith will be attending our Annual Meeting. Bro. Smith has announced he will be retiring in May of this year. I know you will join me in wishing our former Business Agent and WCB Advocate, all the best in his retirement. Bro. Darrel Wong, President of 1937 has been off sick, first with Alzheimer’s and now he has another very serious health problem. With Darryl off on medical Bro. Brian O’Rouke has taken over as Union spokesperson for the LTD Plan.
On bargaining we have to prepare with our members in the two dealerships, Prince George Motors and Wood Wheaton in PG.
Yesterday we had a meeting with our members at Excel as we prepare for negotiations for their new agreement. What will makes this set of negotiation more difficult is the employer has been running another company doing the same work that is non union? The Local Union has applied to the LRB for what is called a common employer. We will see how this plays out over the coming months.
Safe travels on your way home.