by US correspondent Roger Renstrom
Union members have began strike action against the Canadian division of Finning International Inc.
The strike involves about 1,070 hourly Finning workers in the provinces of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
No talks have occurred between the parties, and none are scheduled, said Neil McDonald, vice president and business representative for Local Lodge 99 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
McDonald said Finning charged the union on October 18 with bargaining in bad faith and on October 25 with improperly holding up truck traffic at an Alberta shop location for Fort McMurray-Mildred Lake operations. The Alberta Labour Relations Board, in Edmonton, Alberta, was reviewing the charges.
Union members had allowed vehicles to enter the premises at 15-minute intervals until a plant "manager used some strong language", McDonald said. Subsequently, union members delayed trucks for two hours, prompting Finning to seek a cease-and-desist order from the board.
Since the strike began on October 20, "Finning management and salaried staff have been deployed to key customer service roles and are working hard to keep the impact on customers to a minimum", Tom Merinsky,
Finning vice president of investor relations, said. "Finning remains ready to resume negotiations, with the help of the previously appointed mediator, and we are committed to reaching a fair, balanced resolution as soon as possible."
Merinsky would not comment on the allegations against the union.
A three-year labour agreement for Finning IAMAW workers in the two provinces expired on April 30.
No impact on other Finning operations was anticipated.
The materials handling business of Vancouver-based Finning is the sole distributor of Caterpillar Inc counterbalance trucks and warehouse equipment in the United Kingdom and offers more than 130 types of materials handling equipment.