Wednesday will mark three weeks on the picket lines for unionized Mt. Polley employees as legal strike action continues.
“They’re staying strong at the picket lines but they’re obviously disappointed. They would like to be back working; everybody’s got mortgages, families, and things of that nature,” said United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 President Brian O’Rourke.
“There a number of employees especially in the trades department that have taken their tools and found employment elsewhere for the time being.”
The strike was initiated May 23 by the Union following a three-hour lockout by Mount Polley Mining Corporation that had invited employees back “under the terms of a new comprehensive and competitive wage and benefits package.”
Employees at the main picket line told MYCARIBOONOW Thursday that one of the main issues of the dispute is temporary workers-some who have worked at the mine for more than a year that do not receive benefits or RSP contributions despite paying union dues.
“The agreement with us is that if they hire you for 3 months and if they don’t want you to stay then they can lay you off and if they want you to stay then they hire full time-that’s what we’re trying to get for temps,” an employee explained.
“We’re actually fighting for tomorrow, for the upcoming young people so they don’t have to go backward on seniority or severance,” said another.
“There’s a lot of us that are here who could say the heck with it and could go back to work and be selfish, but there will be a lot of younger people coming up that will get caught in that. It’s a bad net and it’s not fair.”
O’Rourke says to date there has been has no attempt by the employer to get a hold of them to go back to the table and talk.
A labor agreement expired on December 31, 2017
“It’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s for a good cause. We’re helping tomorrow’s kids,” said an employee.
“We’re all sort of suffering, but it will be okay.”
Multiple requests for comment from Mt. Polley Mining Corporation have not been returned.