Layoff notices were given out to 36 Mt. Polley workers yesterday as the recovery phase following the Aug 4th tailings pond breach nears completion.

Paul French, President of United Steelworkers Local 1-425, shares his reaction.

“We’re a little bit frustrated that it happened, but it wasn’t by surprise. We’ve been in quite close contact with the mine since the breach occurred,…so we’ve been going out there weekly to get updates and try to keep people working.”

French says under a collective agreement, there could be a recall in order of seniority when more work is available.

“We have been dealing with the Ministry of Skills and Labour to make sure that when layoffs happen, we can fast-track different options for the guys so that they’re aware. It’s there for them to come back. Hopefully, we can get through this without a whole bunch more layoffs.”

French adds that the government needs to get on board to approve permits the mine has submitted to get the mine back to regular operations.

“The workers are basically being kind of held hostage, if I can say that; on a day to day basis not knowing what is in store for them tomorrow until a there’s decision made on whether the dam can be fixed, how it can be fixed, when it’s going to be fixed, and is there a possibility to have the Springer pit used as a temporary tailings pond so that the mine can operate.”

294 full-time employees currently remain employed at Mt. Polley.