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Workers’ strike notice threatens Coastal Gaslink Pipeline

Union demands fair severance for hospitality staff ahead of lodge’s permanent closure
A photo of work in progress in 2019 on the Coastal Gas Link pipe which is meant to carry natural gas from Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat. (File photo)

In a move that threatens to derail the progress of a critical pipeline construction, hospitality workers at the Horizon North Parsnip Lodge near Prince George handed in a 72-hour strike notice today.

Represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, the 150-member workforce at Parsnip Lodge voted 95 per cent in favour of the strike on Sept 9.

The lodge, a temporary home to as many as 1,200 Coastal GasLink pipeline workers, is set to close its doors permanently later this year once work on installing a section of the pipeline is finished.

The hospitality workers are advocating for fair severance for years of service and the upcoming loss of their employment. With no alternative large-scale accommodations in sight, the union said, a strike could mean a significant delay in the pipeline’s completion.

Owned by TC Energy, the pipeline will pump natural gas from Groundbirch in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat where it will be super-cooled into liquid form for export at the multi-billion dollar LNG Canada facility now under construction.

The 670 kilometre long pipeline is nearing completion along its eight construction sections.

TC Energy said they are working closely with the union to understand and mitigate the impacts if a strike takes effect.

“We will continue to follow and participate in the Labour Relations Board process, as required,” a spokesperson said.

“We hope that all parties will be able to come to an agreement at the bargaining table soon, as this accommodation is important to Coastal GasLink’s ability to have the work safely executed in compliance with our environmental requirements.”

Earlier this year Local 40 members at Kitimat’s Cedar Valley Lodge and Crossroads Lodge avoided strike action after a 97 per cent favourable vote July 7.

A majority of the Cedar Valley Lodge’s staff secured a substantial 30-40 per cent pay raise over their one-year contract. Other enhancements ranged from increases in vacation pay, vast improvements in medical benefits, to the initiation of a retirement plan.

At the time, Zailda Chan, president of UNITE HERE Local 40, said the Kitimat settlements sent a strong message across the province: “Hospitality workers will not be overlooked or disrespected, and their work should be valued,” she said.

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