Kitimat municipal strike shows no signs of imminent resolution

Unifor 2300 has given a new final offer to the District and council has met to discuss it, but no solution on horizon.

The union had been awaiting a response from the District of Kitimat regarding a new offer as of Friday.

However come Sunday and the District issued a response to the community saying they can’t get the union to budge.

Mayor Phil Germuth said that last Thursday a special council meeting was held to discuss the latest offer but didn’t suggest anything was a done deal with issues still outstanding.

He said direction was given to the managers to prepare a response for the union. The District says through their April 5 release that on April 3 there was a sit down of the two sides. The District, they sayoffered to reduce the number of summer students at the union’s request and to create more full-time positions in the summer, and a clause that would guarantee the number the number of positions.

“Unfortunately, there was no negotiation or no compromise by the union.   The union reprimanded the District’s representatives and asked them to leave,” read the District of Kitimat’s news release. “The Union has consistently indicated the District’s offers are not sufficient to end the current labour dispute.”

The union had earlier fought back to the District’s “facts”, countering many of the city’s claims.

Among the responses is that the District may have listened to the union’s concerns but the union says the District “in no way, shape or form…negotiate with us.”

The union also doesn’t agree that any of their demands affect management’s rights, which is a stated issue from the District.

The union’s response also emphasizes they want to maintain “our historical relationship of relative parity with RTA. We wish to finally cement that relationship in our Collective Agreement…”

Speaking with the Sentinel, Unifor Business Agent Martin McIlwrath said he is also still concerned about the communication of their offers to council.

He said it took 19 days for the union’s own final offer of February 25 to be presented to council.

“That’s very concerning that our people were out on the street and there weren’t decisions being made because they hadn’t even seen our offer to settle,” he said. “Maybe if council had seen our offer to settle we wouldn’t have been on strike.”

However Germuth disputes that saying the communication from city managers has been good and he feels council has been informed on any offers or changes the entire time.

“Staff have kept us updated at least every second day of what’s new in the negotiations,” said Germuth. “Nothing was ever hidden from us at all, it’s totally false to say that.”

He said even as tweaks are made, the town still can’t move on some of the major issues that seem to be holding back an agreement.

He added, “We’ve been trying to build [our] relationship right from day one and it’s unfortunate, though, when one side thinks it’s a war, that makes things a little more difficult.”