Union members vote on Finning agreement

News Story
- 1 Dec 2005 ( #237 ) - VANCOUVER, Canada
2 min read
by US correspondent Roger Renstrom
Union members are voting this week on whether to accept an agreement that would end a strike against Finning's Canadian division. The parties reached a tentative agreement on November 25.

The union's negotiating team recommended acceptance. "We made a lot of concessions to get contracting-out removed from the proposal, " said Jason Rockwell, organiser and communications director for Local Lodge 99 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). "Finning's practice of contracting-out was our major issue".

Workers went on strike on October 20 and rejected a previous Finning offer on November 10 (Forkliftaction.com News #235).

Union information meetings and voting in seven locations on the three-year negotiated collective agreement started on November 28 and are scheduled to end on December 2.

"After six weeks (on strike), we have to be given direction from members," Rockwell said in a telephone interview.
Meanwhile, union picketing continues at Finning sites. The 1,070 hourly Finning workers in the Alberta and Northwest Territories provinces are members of the IAMAW lodge.

"Upon receiving a positive ratification from union members, Finning (Canada) will begin bringing all employees back to work as expeditiously as possible," the company said in a statement. Vancouver, British Columbia-based Finning International Inc is among the largest dealers of Caterpillar Inc equipment, including forklift trucks.

Separately, a Finning forklift business segment faces difficulties. In the United Kingdom (UK), "materials handling is a big challenge", said Finning president Douglas Whitehead.

The company said the UK materials handling business "experienced another disappointing quarter in a very competitive market. Rental revenues decreased in the quarter, partially due to a lower demand for short-term rental of materials handling fleet units."

For the quarter ended September 30, the Finning UK unit reduced its short-term rental fleet for materials handling to 2,600 units from 3,050 a year earlier and reduced its long-term rental fleet by about 6%.

Nicholas Lloyd, managing director of Finning UK, reported on ongoing discussions with managers of forklift supplier Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklifts Europe. "They well understand our business challenges and our positions this operation needs to have in the future to be successful," he said.
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