Low copper prices force mine layoffs

Thirty-four unionized workers have received layoff notices at Gibraltar Mine, said Jon Hawkins, the national rep for Unifor Local 3018.

Thirty-four unionized workers have received layoff notices at Gibraltar Mine, said Jon Hawkins, the national rep for Unifor Local 3018.

“Under the collective agreement members have bumping rights and some of them are choosing to do that,” Hawkins said, confirming the positions are in mine operations and the mill, including 13 millwrights.

Taseko vice president of corporate affairs Brian Battison said the layoffs reflect the difficult economic conditions that are facing the copper business at the time.

“Our objective is to keep the mine open and operating and to do that we need to be as cost-effective as possible,” Battison said.

Around 660 people remain employed at the mine — 490 of them are unionized workers.

When asked if the union saw the layoffs coming, Hawkins said a month ago the company laid off 10 people in management and the union wondered if it was next.

“It’s such a roller coaster ride with copper,” Hawkins said, adding the union is reaching out to other companies to see if there are any positions available.

“I think it’s hard to get tradesmen in B.C. right now, so I’m very confused they laid off millwrights,” he added. “They will be snapped up.”

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