As our members are no doubt aware, the unionized workforce at Mount Polley Mine continues to maintain picket lines at entry points into the minesite. Unfortunately we have had little choice in this action as the Company started the labour dispute with a lockout at 3 a.m. on the morning of May 23rd.
Despite a decisive strike vote of 96% in favour of a strike should it be required, no strike action was started. We have clearly indicated to the Company that it has been our intention to reach a mutually agreed upon, fair Collective Agreement reached through fair negotiation. Our committee continues to be available to meet the company at any time to (possibly) conclude negotiations. The Company’s response has been to cancel all scheduled meetings with your union bargaining committee, stating that there was no need to meet any further as their last proposal (dated May 9th) was their final position and they felt there was no further need to meet.
This has brought us to an unfortunate impasse. We believe the company does not have the right to force an agreement upon our membership. There is no Collective AGREEMENT when only one party agrees. At this point it seems the company remains committed to running our unionized site with staff and contractors. This is without doubt causing hardship on both sides. Our membership is to be commended for their commitment to keeping our picket lines properly represented 7 days a week around the clock. We are clearly a united membership that finds the company’s approach unacceptable.
We would ask that all tradespeople arrange to pick up their tools by calling the front gate in advance to advise them that you are coming in to get them.
We have had members inquiring about vacation pay. This is the company’s response, when questioned:
"No vacation pay will be paid out unless it was scheduled prior to the lockout."
We have had multiple discussions with our legal counsel on this matter and have had it confirmed that there is no opportunity to pursue this matter due to the lack of an active Collective Bargaining Agreement. We agree....it’s your money. But the Company feels that they are best served by keeping that from you. Even earned vacation pay. This is certainly an exemplary example of questionable conduct in employee relations. Many of our members have expressed dismay that the Company would resort to these types of tactics.
We would like our members to know that we are pursuing all avenues available to find a path to negotiating a Fair Collective Agreement. Union Executive and Bargaining Committee Members met the morning of Friday June 8th to discuss ways to move forward and support our membership. We feel it is vital to remain available to our members to address questions and concerns and hope that this bulletin helps answer some of your questions.
Also - everybody please be respectful when it comes to social media. Remember that you cannot post a person’s picture without first having their consent to do so.
We will be issuing these letters on a more frequent basis in an effort to keep you updated as changes or issues occur.
We would like to remind our members that alcohol is strictly prohibited on the picket line, as is being intoxicated. This type of activity will not be tolerated and we ask that any members having concerns about impairment or alcohol bring the matter to the attention of the picket captain or one of your Plant Committee Members. We must be respectful of this rule for the safety of all people at the site.
"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
Stay Strong Brothers and Sisters!
Your bargaining committee