(Files by George Henderson-MyCaribooNow)
The bargaining committee, representing union workers at the Gibralter Mine, are now armed with a strong strike mandate
Curtis Finley, President of Unifor Local 30-18, says members voted 98 percent in favour of going on strike if necessary.
“The mass majority of the membership did come and vote. Up at the mine we work four different shifts and we run 24 hours a day so we had to set up a total of 4 meetings. One was last week in Williams Lake, the other one was virtually in Quesnel because of the restrictions, the COVID restrictions, and then this week we did the same thing, one in Williams Lake and again virtually in Quesnel. They ended last (Wednesday) night at 8-30 pm, and then our election committee tallied up the votes and it was at 98 percent.”
Here, Finley outlines the next steps.
“Going forward with the national rep from UNIFOR we will set up a meeting with the company and hopefully we can get back to bargaining and get a fair deal for everyone up here. If the company doesn’t want to bargain or is still standing strong on their first proposal, the local will issue 72 hour strike notice.”
Finley says 407 of the 530 union members voted.
He says the impasse continues to focus on just one issue.
“We’re stuck on wages. Ultimately when the first tentative agreement was turned down it was wages. The company just released their third quarter report and earnings from mining was 76 million dollars.”
Finley says he doesn’t want to get into the specific numbers right now, but he says they are still pretty far apart on wages.
Taseko Mines has issued a statement on the impasse as well.
“The company says Gibraltar management have been engaged in the collective bargaining process with representatives of Unifor Local 30-18 for the past several months, and even reached a tentative agreement this fall.”
It goes on to say that they fully respect the union’s position and the exercise of its collective bargaining rights, including the right to seek a strike mandate, and that discussions toward a new collective agreement are ongoing, and that they are committed to ultimately reaching an agreement that is fair and beneficial for all parties.