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Tentative deal in lengthy strike at Western Forest Products operations in B.C.

FILE - Softwood lumber is pictured at Tolko Industries in Heffley Creek, B.C., on April, 1, 2018. The crisis facing British Columbia's forest industry is intensifying as markets decline, mills shut and a strike involving 3,000 forestry workers enters its seventh month. The multiple threats are deeper than the global meltdown of 2008 and may rival the damage wrought by B.C.'s 1980s recession, setting off massive industry restructuring, says an insider who is hearing from many people on the brink of financial collapse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

Western Forest Products says a tentative agreement has been reached with the United Steelworkers union

The strike began at the company's Vancouver Island operations just over seven months ago

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams says his community has been impacted by the strike and the agreement is long overdue

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130)  – About 3,000 people on Vancouver Island are getting ready to go back to work.

Western Forest Products says a tentative agreement has been reached with the United Steelworkers union to end a strike that began at the company’s Vancouver Island operations just over seven months ago.

A statement released by the company says the deal still needs ratification, but the union’s bargaining committee has advised it will be recommending acceptance.

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams says his community has been impacted by the strike and the agreement is long overdue.

“For the first month or two people thought the deal would get done, but when it hit the sixth, seventh, and now the eighth month that is absolutely unacceptable,” he says. “The domino effect that it has on all the coffee shops, the grocery stores, the restaurants — all of the service sector has had a devastating impact, and is having an effect here in Campbell River for the service sector that are providing for the forest industry,” he says.

RELATED: ‘Look at what people are going through’: Port McNeil mayor challenges government to end forestry strike

Some of the communities hit hard by the strike also include Port McNeil, Port Hardy and Powell River.

Adams is optimistic the agreement between the company and the United Steelworkers union will be ratified.

“We’re hopeful that this is finally that deal and we have some stability going forward for the next couple of years.

Mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers were working with the two sides, but booked out earlier this month, when both the union and company said they were too far apart to reach a settlement.

The provincial government reappointed the two as special mediators on Thursday, which gave them additional powers under the labour code to reach a deal.

Don Demens, CEO of Western Forest Products, says in a statement that the last seven months have been challenging, but he is pleased “we were able to find common ground through the efforts of all involved.”