Teck workers vote to continue strike

VANCOUVER — Striking workers at Teck Resources’ Elkview coal mine in southeastern B.C. have rejected a new contract proposal, saying they have “hunkered down” until they get a better offer from the company.

The 700 members of the United Steelworkers union have been on strike at the Elkview mine since Jan. 30.

Local 9346 president Chris Nand said the union negotiating committee brought the proposal back to its members after meeting with mediator Vince Ready one week ago. The union executive made no recommendation on the proposal, he said. The workers voted 57 per cent to reject it.

“We feel it is a solid strong mandate,” Nand said of the members’ vote. “We have hunkered down here.”

He said workers are not satisfied with several issues in the Teck package including contributions to RSPs, and the absence of retroactive pay for workers who have been without a contract since Oct. 31.

“We have to make some changes to the contract before we can recommend it to our members,” Nand said.

Teck vice-president of corporate affairs Marcia Smith said the company believes what it put on the table was a good offer and wants a return to bargaining to settle the strike. Both parties reached the tentative agreement with the assistance of mediator Ready, she said.

“We are trying to understand why the vote went the way it did, said Smith. “We are looking to get back to discussions. We don’t want to be in a position where we have people losing their livelihood.”

The Elkview mine is located in the Elk Valley, 15 kilometres from Sparwood and employs more than 700 people.

It produced coal for steelmaking.

Teck has six coal mines in the West, five in B.C. and one in Alberta. Sixty-three per cent of the coal is exported to Asia with the remainder being shipped within North America.



About this entry