Herb Daniher thinks the union and company can reach an agreement.
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Workers at an area mine could be on strike next month if two critical issues aren’t resolved.
United Steel Workers Local 1-2693 represents around 200 workers at the Lac des Illes mine, a North American Palladium operation 85 kilometres Northwest of Thunder Bay. Workers at the site voted 94 per cent in favour of giving the union a strike mandate due to health and safety and scheduling issues.
USW staff representative Herb Daniher said a full-time health and safety advisor, from USW membership, is needed to make sure people working in the underground operation are safe.
The mine did have an advisor before it shutdown in 2008. Since reopening more than two years ago, the position hasn’t been filled. Daniher said that’s unacceptable.
“It’s one of the most dangerous environments that you can work under,” he said. “(The position) will save lives… we will strike if we don’t get that reinstituted.”
Most workers live in the region and go home on days off to see their families. But the company has moved to a 14-day work schedule, which makes that difficult Daniher said.
“The employer for whatever reason seems to think that they’d be better served by working a 14 day schedule and that is not conducive to peoples’ lifestyle in Northwestern Ontario and it’s not acceptable,” he said.
Still, Daniher said the strike vote was more of a necessary legislative step in the bargaining process. A mediator is coming next week so the company and union can reach an agreement. There has never been a strike at the mine.
“We’ve had a good relationship with the mine and we still do and I think that’s going to continue and I think common sense will prevail,” he said.
If not, workers would strike Sept. 10.
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