The union representing workers at 13 northern B.C. sawmills has directed its members to cease working overtime as a first step in job action after entering a legal strike position on Saturday.

According to a report in the Prince George Citizen the United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 and Conifer, the employers’ bargaining agent for the region, are at odds over a new contract. Bargaining has reached an impasse that a mediator was unable to resolve.

The sides, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on negotiations for sawmills in the southern Interior. Talks between the USW and the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association, the bargaining agent for that region are set to resume today in Kelowna.

If the IFLRA offers a similar package to Conifer’s, a strike vote will be conducted there in the coming days, Local 1-2017 officials said in a posting on their website.

Conifer is offering annual wage increases ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 percent over five years and is also seeking a series of concessions. The USW counters that given the high price producers are attracting for their product, employees deserve better.

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