A strike was averted at Mount Polley Mine after an agreement was reached between the employer Imperial Metals and the United Steel Workers Local 1-425 last week.
The union represents approximately 280 employees at the mine. On May 31, the union issued strike notice for 8 a.m. Thursday, June 6.
“We negotiated a new memorandum, which was presented to the membership,” said union staff representative and chief negotiator Randy Gatzka from Vancouver Friday. “They voted at Mount Polley, accepting the proposed memorandum by 60 per cent so there was no need to go on strike.”
The new agreement is for five years.
Gatzka confirmed there are improvements to the wages, registered retirements savings plans and education.
“There’s also a copper bonus and many language changes,” he said.
While an agreement was put in place when Mount Polley reopened in 2004, it needed a number of revisions because of the expansions at the mine site.
It needed updating in the language around apprenticeships, lines of progressions in the mill and in the pit, Gatzka explained.
Relieved there’s an agreement in place, Gatzka said negotiating had been a “long” process.
“We started over a year ago. The talks were pretty hot and heavy, but it’s all done.”
Negotiating is a process, he suggested.
“The membership rejected the first agreement so we went back and got more, and the membership decided to accept it, rather than exercise their right to have a dispute,” Gatzka said.