Government has received a report on successorship when timber harvesting rights are transferred.
The Province will also engage with First Nations rights and title holders involved in forestry, as well as seek input from unions and employers in the forest sector.
No decisions have been made on implementing any of the report’s recommendations.
Successorship rules provide stability for workers during the sale, lease or transfer of a business. The rules require the new employer to honour the existing collective agreement so workers’ jobs and negotiated benefits, and the employers’ obligations are preserved, despite the change in ownership. However, those same protections do not currently apply to situations where timber harvesting rights are transferred and there is no sale or transfer of a business.
In November 2021, under the Labour Relations Code, the Ministry of Labour appointed an industrial inquiry commission (IIC), consisting of Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, to look at ways to address successorship protections for the forest sector. The appointment of an IIC was recommended by the Labour Relations Code Review Panel in 2018, and was included in the Ministry of Forests’ Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia intentions paper in 2021.
The IIC report provides recommendations to extend union rights, or successorship, where forest tenure is transferred from one entity to another and harvesting rights continue within a five-year period.
The report includes specific recommendations related to the transfer of harvesting rights to First Nations. The recommendations include possible changes to the Labour Relations Code, which would allow a First Nation to trigger negotiations with the union for collective agreement modifications necessary to ensure its terms align with the principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
Decisions about if, when or how to implement the IIC recommendations will be guided by engagements with parties that could potentially be affected. First Nations rights and title holders that are involved in forestry, and unions and employers in the forest sector can send feedback to: ForestsSuccessorship@gov.bc.ca
- Forest-sector collective agreements primarily exist in the coastal forest region, while logging operations in B.C.’s Interior are primarily non-union.
- The appointment of the IIC followed an independent review of the Labour Relations Code in 2018 that identified the need to review successorship issues in the forest sector.
- The 2018 review panel heard concerns that the changing nature of the forest sector meant that workers increasingly continue to log the same land, often with the same equipment, but without their collective agreement rights when harvesting rights are transferred.
- Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia includes intentions to create future tenure opportunities and redistribute forest tenure and timber harvesting rights, encouraging diversification in the forest sector.
To read the IIC’s report and recommendations about successorship in the forest industry, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/government/ministries-organizations/ministries/labour/iic_report_on_forest_industry_successorship_2022.pdf
To read the November 2021 news release about the establishment of the IIC, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021LBR0033-002187
To read Modernizing Forest Policy in British Columbia: Setting the Intention and Leading the Forest Sector, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/modernforestpolicy
To learn about timber harvesting rights in British Columbia, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/forest-tenures/timber-harvesting-rights?keyword=harvesting&keyword=rights
For information about aligning laws to the UN Declaration, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/indigenous-people/new-relationship/united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/alignment-of-laws