Members of United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 voted 79 per cent in favour of an agreement with Mount Polley Mining Corporation last week. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Mount Polley and USW reach agreement

79 per cent of union members vote in favour of collective agreement

Unionized workers at Mount Polley Mine have started to return to work after an agreement was reached with the company last week.

United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 president Brian O’Rourke said 79 per cent of union members voted in favour of a new three-year agreement on July 31 and Aug. 1.

“After the company was notified on Thursday morning of the results, some people started getting called back to work immediately,” O’Rourke told the Tribune Tuesday. “I was in the steelworkers office in Williams Lake on Friday and people were coming in saying they were getting calls already.”

The previous agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2017, so the new agreement is effective back to Jan. 1, 2018.

“In year three they will get a two and a half per cent wage increase,” O’Rourke added. “A lot of the wording in the agreement was changed as well as terms for temporary workers. It wasn’t everything the union asked for, but at least we got some numbers around temporary workers and duties.”

Happy that people are back at work after being on a legal strike since May 23, O’Rourke said hopefully “some reality can back into their lives.” Some people have found jobs elsewhere, he added.

Echoing O’Rourke, Mount Polley Mine general manager Dale Reimer said he was looking forward to everyone returning to work.

“It has not been much fun for everyone,” he said of the strike.

Read more: Mount Polley Mine ordered to pay lost wages to 26 laid off employees

Union employees have been returning to work, according to scheduling or giving notice to part-time jobs they may have picked up elsewhere, Reimer said, adding he anticipated it will take about two weeks before everyone has returned.

“We will be bringing them back in stages and as many as we can right away, but some of them are not scheduled to start because of their shift schedule.”

Presently the Mount Polley is continuing with its current mine plan to process stockpiled ore, but will be doing some additional mining in the Cariboo Pit, Reimer confirmed, noting dredging of the Springer Pit is still ongoing and should be completed by the end of the year.

Remediation work for damaged caused by the August 2014 tailings breach continues at the site, including the installation of a fish hatchery about five months ago.

“We put a fish hatchery in and are raising fish in it and it looks like it is quite successful,” Reimer said. “We’ve introduced fish back into the top part of Hazeltine Creek’s first kilometre and a half. We had marvellous results and had fish spawning in there like crazy.”

In the early hours of May 23, Mount Polley Mining Corp. held a three-hour lockout hoping to speed up the bargaining process.

Later that day the union launched a legal strike, and eventually had three picket lines which were manned 24/7 up until last week.

During the strike, the mine continued to operate the mill with non-unionized staff, but eventually switched to an eight-days on and six days off schedule to give staff a break, Reimer said.

On July 16, USW business agent Dan Wil told the Tribune the union was hopeful talks scheduled with the company that week would glean results.

Read more: Talks scheduled as Mount Polley Mine strike enters seventh week

This story was updated from its original version posted Aug. 7 after an interview with mine’s general manager.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: Embrace literacy

Family Literacy Week is from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2

Cariboo air attack officer reports from Australia

“We are flying a lot, bombing fires anywhere from four to nine hours a day”

Retired teacher, coach set to release new book, Rugby Rivals

Rugby Rivals is targeted at youth aged 10 to 13, and tells the story of 14-year-old Sam Brewer

All Carlton Cards stores closing in the coming weeks

Schurman Retail Group stores across North America will close, including 79 in Canada

WL Fire Department responds to smouldering at Mackenzie Ave. business late Wednesday afternoon

As of 4:30 p.m. RCMP were on site directing traffic toward Second Avenue

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

The city of Wuhan, China, has shut down outbound flights and trains

Survey finds support among Canadians for broader assisted-dying law

The survey was conducted Jan. 17 to 21 among 1,552 Canadians eligible to vote

Veteran B.C. journalist battles cancer through pioneering immunotherapy treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Prices for recreational marijuana in B.C. down from a year ago

New inflation figures show gasoline, housing and certain kinds of food cost more

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Most Read