Letters from District, union show effort to bridge divide on Kitimat strike

Letters released by the District of Kitimat and the union show correspondence indicating renewed efforts to move passed 'negativity.'

The District of Kitimat says they are ready to go back to bargaining, fighting what they say are misconceptions in town that the municipality is refusing to continue negotiations.

To that end, the District released a letter from the town’s negotiator Adriana Wills, to the union, specifically to business agent Martin McIlwrath.

“We continue to be more than willing to meet with you and your committee in order to conclude that Agreement,” reads the letter, dated April 30.

“It is up to you whether or not you involve Mr. McGarrigle. [Gavin McGarrigle is Unifor’s B.C. area director] We are willing to meet with your committee, regardless of its composition.”

The letter continues that mediation is still on the table for the sides to pursue.

“We consider the mediator’s availability to the parties would likely enhance the potential for settlement,” the letter continues, before asking the union for dates where the meetings could take place.

In response, Unifor 2300 released their correspondence which preceded the District’s lawyer’s response.

“I know that going backwards in bargaining will not bring an end to this labour dispute. Equally I know that holding firm on all of the outstanding items will not bring an end to this labour dispute either,” read the letter from McIlwrath.

In McIlwrath’s letter he writes that “I believe we were very close to concluding this labour dispute in Vancouver. However, we need to focus on the positives not the negatives. There have been many negative things said by both parties during this difficult labour dispute and in an effort to end it we must move past the negativity.”

He continued, “I think that both sides can recognize that neither side will be able to declare a victory, but rather we should both be able to say that we made changes that will have a positive outcome for the workforce and our community.”

The letter further offers an “olive branch” to the District, inviting them back to the bargaining table to work on the outstanding issues.

“If you’re interested in resolving this labour dispute please let me know which way you’d like to proceed,” he writes, asking if the town wants to continue using their external negotiator and Unifor’s national representative or rather “take another crack at it locally?”

It remains to be seen whether the union takes up the District negotiator’s suggestion to resume mediation.

 

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