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8-month Vancouver Island forestry strike finally ends as union ratifies agreement – Global News

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An eight-month strike that has devastated communities in northern Vancouver Island has finally come to an end, with the union ratifying a new agreement with Western Forest Products.

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 announced Saturday that its members had ratified the tentative, five-year agreement by 81.9 per cent over two days of voting this week.

Members working for contractors represented by Forest Industrial Relations also ratified the agreement by 93 per cent, the union added.


READ MORE:
Tentative deal reached in lengthy B.C. forestry strike

“Our membership has stood up and pushed back against a company that was bent on breaking our local union,” Local 1-1937 president Brian Butler said in a statement.

“They picked the wrong fight, with the wrong local union. Our members have negotiated a contract that achieves many of our members’ goals and notably did not give Western Forest Products any concessions.”

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About 3,000 employees and contractors at Western Forest Products facilities in several Vancouver Island communities have been off the job since July 1.






1:50
New plan to end Western Forest Products labour dispute


New plan to end Western Forest Products labour dispute

The main sticking point in the dispute was the issue of alternate shifts, which members argue are dangerous by inducing fatigue. WFP has argued the practice is necessary for flexibility.

While the union said it couldn’t bring an end to those alternate shifts, the agreement does include “operational trials of safer shift schedules,” allowing the company to review the practice while members demonstrate alternatives.

“Going forward, it will be incumbent on WFP to understand that simply ignoring the safety of our members and forcing them to work on alternate shifts that members believe will lead to serious injuries and even fatalities, cannot continue,” Butler said.


READ MORE:
2 days after walking away, mediators Vince Ready, Amanda Rogers hired back to B.C. forestry strike

The agreement, which is retroactive to June 15, 2019, also includes a 12.5 wage increase over the remaining four years and five months of the contract.

WFP broke down the increases as three per cent for years one and four, two per cent for years two and three, and 2.5 per cent for the final year.

Increases to live insurance, health and welfare benefits, and shift differential premiums, along with language improvements to health and safety and union security, are also included.

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1:52
B.C. premier gets frosty reception at truck loggers convention


B.C. premier gets frosty reception at truck loggers convention

“We are pleased to have a new collective agreement in place that recognizes the important contributions our employees make and enables Western to serve our customers who, through their purchases support thousands of jobs on the coast of British Columbia,” WFP president and CEO Don Demens said in a statement.

“We are focused on planning for a safe return to work, and while our goal is to begin operating as soon as possible, startup will be contingent on availability of employees and contractors, market demand, weather conditions and sufficient log supply.”

WFP said the agreement also allows additional union contractors to work at the Timberlands operations, providing “additional operating flexibility.”


READ MORE:
‘It’s getting desperate’: Mayor calls on B.C. government to end island forestry strike

The tentative agreement was reached on Monday after repeated breakdowns in mediated talks.

At one point, mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers pulled out of the talks just days after bringing both sides back to the bargaining table, only to be rehired by Labour Minister Harry Bains two days later.

Bains refused to get involved in the bitter dispute for months, before finally urging the union, WFP and the mediators to come together.

The strike has seen families declare bankruptcy and sell off equipment to make ends meet. Businesses in communities that directly rely on the forestry economy, including Port Hardy and Port McNeill, were forced to close as workers saw their bank accounts dwindle.

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READ MORE:
B.C. puts up $5M for forestry strike, but critics not impressed

The B.C. government offered $5 million to contractors in danger of losing their equipment, which union members said was not adequate.

Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom posted a video to Facebook thanking people in the community who looked after families affected by the strike, including donating food, supplies and money.

“This is going to take a little while to recover from, but I’m optimistic,” she said. “I’m optimistic that relationships are going to be rebuilt, that fences are going to be mended, and we’re going to learn from this situation moving forward.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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TSX halt leaves traders, investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year – The Globe and Mail

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Trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and other exchanges owned by TMX Group Ltd. came to an abrupt halt on Thursday afternoon, leaving traders and investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year.

Shortly before 2:00 p.m., TMX ordered a “technical halt” for the TSX, TSX-Venture Exchange and the Alpha Exchange, due to a “problem with order entry.” Derivatives trading on the Montreal Stock Exchange, which is owned by TMX, was also halted.

“Clients are currently unable to enter, modify or cancel open orders,” the exchange said in a statement, shortly after the halt. A TMX spokesperson said the company was investigating the issue, but did not elaborate on what caused the order processing problem that prompted the shutdown.

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The spokesperson added that the company did not know whether trading would resume at a regular time on Friday.

Thursday’s stoppage came at a dramatic moment, cutting short a day of intense selling that saw the S&P/TSX Composite Index drop 323 points or 1.9 per cent as concern mounts about the economic impact of coronavirus.

For professional traders, the halt caused disarray as orders remained unfilled and trading positions were left open.

“If you’ve got an order out there on the TMX, and you can’t cancel it, we need to know how the system is going to be brought back to life. Is there a chance of a double fill, by selling too much or by buying too much? These are concerns that people need to be cognizant of,” said Pete Gombocz, managing director of Velocity Trade Capital Ltd.

The TMX Group said in a statement that prior to re-opening the exchange, it will “provide sufficient time in a pre-open state for participants to manage their orders”

As Canada’s largest exchanges shut down, traders began routing their trades through smaller exchanges such as the NEO Exchange, and through alternative trading systems such as Omega and Chi-X. This took some of the pressure off the build-up of un-executed orders. However, far fewer shares trade hands on these smaller exchanges, making access to liquidity a challenge.

“The ability to enter and exit a trade is certainly hampered,” Mr. Gombocz said.

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The early shutdown caused additional problems for people trying to manage margin calls, said Anthony George, head trader at INFOR Financial Group Inc. A margin call happens when people have borrowed money to buy stock, and the price of the stock declines, meaning they have to put more money into the trading account to make up for the shortfall.

“There’s capital issues people have. You’re up against margin. And without the access to sell, to liquidity, you’re breaking the rule,” Mr. George said, referring to rules around margin requirements.

“Margin calls come out at 2:15, and the market was halted at 1:54… You can go to those other exchanges and sell 100 shares or 200 shares, but you’re not getting the same liquidity,” he said.

Order processing problems used to be a relatively frequent occurrence on the TSX, said Mr. Gombocz, who worked for the exchange in the 1990s and early 2000s, although things have improved in recent years.

“I think the system and the technology today has been built to withstand a lot more [volume] than they would see on an everyday basis, so those spikes that you would see in trading volumes and order flow, I think those have been factored into how they built their processing,” Mr. Gombocz said.

“It is technology, technology does break, but they’ve had a good track record,” he added.

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Husky CEO slams Ottawa for derailing projects with politics – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Expansive aerial view of a pit mining project in Alberta's Oilsands near Fort McMurray.
Expansive aerial view of a pit mining project in Alberta’s Oilsands near Fort McMurray.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Husky Energy’s (HSE.TO) chief executive officer says major energy projects are unlikely to move forward in Canada unless Ottawa does more to reduce political uncertainty and lengthy, expensive approval processes.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”22″>Husky Energy’s (HSE.TO) chief executive officer says major energy projects are unlikely to move forward in Canada unless Ottawa does more to reduce political uncertainty and lengthy, expensive approval processes. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Speaking on a conference call following the release of the Calgary-based integrated oil producer’s latest financial results, Robert Peabody commented on the increasingly challenging environment for new energy infrastructure in Canada.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”23″>Speaking on a conference call following the release of the Calgary-based integrated oil producer’s latest financial results, Robert Peabody commented on the increasingly challenging environment for new energy infrastructure in Canada. 

“Governments should make every effort to ensure that companies in any industry don’t invest significant dollars in a project, and in project applications, only to be derailed by policy or political uncertainty at the very last moment,” he said on Thursday. “That certainly is a situation that has to be rectified if people want projects to move ahead.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="His remarks come in the wake of Teck Resources’ (TECK-B.TO)(TECK) decision last Sunday to pull the plug on plans for a $20 billion oilsands mine in northern Alberta. The company said the full potential of Canada’s energy sector will not be realized until the government reconciles conflicting natural resource development and carbon reduction priorities.” data-reactid=”25″>His remarks come in the wake of Teck Resources’ (TECK-B.TO)(TECK) decision last Sunday to pull the plug on plans for a $20 billion oilsands mine in northern Alberta. The company said the full potential of Canada’s energy sector will not be realized until the government reconciles conflicting natural resource development and carbon reduction priorities.

Teck began the regulatory process for the planned Frontier mine in March 2008. Last July, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recommended approval of the project. The federal government was expected to issue its decision by the end of the month. 

“All you have to do to frustrate large project investment is make the regulatory process longer than sort of five years,” Peabody said. “What killed Teck, ultimately, was a regulatory process that just went on and on and on.”

While Teck had not deemed the project viable given current commodity prices and the lack of take-away capacity in Canada’s oil patch, the project became a political flashpoint, pitting Ottawa’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions against the need to support Alberta’s long-suffering resource economy.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Teck warned last week that it would face a $1.13 billion impairment charge if the plan did not go ahead.” data-reactid=”29″>Teck warned last week that it would face a $1.13 billion impairment charge if the plan did not go ahead.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The abandoned Frontier mine plan is the latest casualty in a long line of energy projects impacted by regulatory hurdles and environmental opposition, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion sold to the government by Kinder Morgan (KMI), and TC Energy Corp’s (TRP.TO)(TRP) Keystone XL pipeline.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”30″>The abandoned Frontier mine plan is the latest casualty in a long line of energy projects impacted by regulatory hurdles and environmental opposition, including the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion sold to the government by Kinder Morgan (KMI), and TC Energy Corp’s (TRP.TO)(TRP) Keystone XL pipeline. 

The latest pressure point has been TC’s Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline in Northern British Columbia. The project aims to transport natural gas 670 kilometres from near Dawson Creek to a facility near Kitimat, where LNG Canada will prepare the gas for export to global markets. 

While the project has the approval of all 20 elected Indigenous band councils governing the route, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have not consented. They insist their authority trumps governance structures created under Canada’s controversial Indian Act. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Nationwide protests in support of the hereditary chiefs have erupted in recent weeks. Demonstrators have blocked trains on key rail arteries, resulting in a range of setbacks for businesses across the country, including temporary layoffs.” data-reactid=”33″>Nationwide protests in support of the hereditary chiefs have erupted in recent weeks. Demonstrators have blocked trains on key rail arteries, resulting in a range of setbacks for businesses across the country, including temporary layoffs.

A new poll by the Angus Reid Institute found 78 per cent of Canadians feel the country’s reputation as a prime destination for investment has taken a hit as a result. 

Goldy Hyder, chief executive officer at the Business Council of Canada, said the disconnect between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their elected counterparts adds another layer of complexity to the already challenging process of building energy projects in Canada. 

He said the federal government keeps “moving the goalposts” on project approvals, and his members in the energy sector are getting fed up. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“‘What else do you want from us?’ That’s what I hear,” Hyder told Yahoo Finance Canada.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”37″>“‘What else do you want from us?’ That’s what I hear,” Hyder told Yahoo Finance Canada

His advice for the government: “Don’t politicize regulatory processes. Build the regulations strong enough that you are comfortable that you are getting the policy outcomes that you want.” 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.” data-reactid=”39″>Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for&nbsp;Apple&nbsp;and&nbsp;Android.” data-reactid=”40″>Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

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Husky Energy CEO blames regulatory process 'that just went on and on' for end of Teck Frontier mine – CBC.ca

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The shelving of the proposed $20.6-billion Frontier oilsands mine this week stems mostly from the length of time it took for it to win regulatory approval, says the CEO of oilsands producer Husky Energy Inc.

The project application was withdrawn by Teck Resources Ltd. last Sunday, just days before the federal government was to rule on whether it would allow it to proceed.

Teck CEO Don Lindsay said there was “no constructive path forward” in a Canadian environment marked by conflict amid Indigenous rights, climate change issues and resource development.

What killed Teck, you know, ultimately, was a regulatory process that just went on and on and on and on.​​​​​– Rob Peabody, Husky CEO

“What killed Teck, you know, ultimately, was a regulatory process that just went on and on and on and on,” said Husky CEO Rob Peabody on a conference call Thursday to discuss his company’s fourth-quarter results.

“Had that process concluded in a sensible timeframe, I’m sure we’d have a Teck project under construction today because there were proponents who were set and keen to move forward with that project.

“If you wait long enough, that sort of coalescence on the idea of spending that sort of money ultimately unravels.”

The Frontier project application was first submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator in late 2011. In 2016, a joint federal-provincial review panel was appointed and it approved the project last July.

Asked if the outcome suggests large oilsands projects can’t be built in Canada, Peabody said it actually means all large projects will have a difficult time, even if they produce renewable hydroelectric energy.

“Building major highways, building pipelines, building major infrastructure projects around cities, things like that, I think this applies to everything,” he said.

Teck’s Frontier oilsands project was planned for northern Alberta. The company pulled its application for the project on Sunday. (CBC News)

Critics of the mine, designed to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day, said it wouldn’t have been profitable unless North American oil prices were much higher than they are now, although Teck said new technologies would have been employed to bring down costs.

Husky said lower long-term commodity price forecasts were the major reason it decided to take non-cash impairment charges of $2.3 billion after tax in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The charges are related to its upstream assets in North America, including its Sunrise oilsands project and natural gas assets, as well as the subtraction of redundant assets at its refinery in Lima, Ohio, following a project that allows it to process heavier barrels of crude.

The writedowns echo a $2.8 billion charge taken by oilsands rival Suncor Energy Inc. earlier this month related to lower forecast prices for heavy oil from its Fort Hills oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

Teck took a charge of $910 million for the same reason related to its 21.3 per cent stake in the Fort Hills mine.

Husky cut about 370 jobs in a round of layoffs in October to better align staffing with capital spending plans for 2020 and 2021 that had been reduced by $500 million due to changing market conditions.

Shares of Husky fell by as much as 11.7 per cent to $6.31 on Thursday morning in Toronto after it reported results that matched analyst expectations on production but missed by a wide margin on funds from operations.

The Calgary-based company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing blamed lower U.S. refinery margins, an extended shutdown at the refinery in Lima, the temporary shutdown of the Keystone pipeline in November and $74 million related to employee severance for posting funds from operations of $469 million.

That compared with $583 million in the year-earlier period and analyst expectations of $712 million, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The company posted a net loss of $2.34 billion, compared with a profit of $216 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

On the call, Peabody said the company’s Asia-Pacific operations are getting back to normal after precautions related to the COVID-19 virus temporarily reduced demand for natural gas from the Liwan offshore project operated by its partner, China’s CNOOC Ltd.

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