Gibraltar Mine lays off 17 workers

Seventeen workers at Gibraltar Mine have received layoff notices.

Seventeen workers at Gibraltar Mine have received layoff notices.

The positions impacted are 14 haul truck drivers, two blaster helpers and one carpenter and will go into effect this Friday after the bumping process is completed.

“Our union is concerned because the layoffs don’t correspond with any curtailment in production,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor western director.

Warnock also said the layoffs are unfair considering mining companies are being offered a reprieve in hydro bills for up to two years, as announced by Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett in Williams Lake last month.

Taseko’s vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison, however, said the layoffs are a result of a new phase in operations at the mine.

“We’ve moved from the bottom of the pit to higher ground so there’s a shorter haul route,” Battison said.

“As for the hydro reprieve, Gibraltar did not apply for it yet because the process hasn’t been set up.”

After the layoffs, 480 Unifor Local 3018 members will remain working at the mine, Warnock said, noting these recent layoffs are the first round in 2016.

“If the B.C. Liberal government’s hydro deferral can’t generate good jobs, then it’s just corporate welfare,” Warnock said. “B.C.’s families don’t get a pass on their hydro bills, why should multinational mining companies that are laying off workers?”