OAKVILLE, ONT — Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) has issued a statement urging the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) and the federal Minister of Northern Affairs to act immediately to approve Baffinland’s request to allow the company to increase production to six million tonnes at the Mary River Mine through to the end of 2022.
The approval would protect the jobs of hundreds of skilled unionized workers, among them heavy machinery operators, haul truck drivers, millwrights, electricians, welders, mechanics, crane operators, labourers, warehouse technicians and other occupations, many of whom are residents of Nunavut, stated Mike Gallagher, Local 793 business manager, in a release.
On July 31, Baffinland issued hundreds of termination notices to employees.
In a notice to employees, CEO Brian Penney stated, “For a number of reasons, the regulatory process is moving more slowly than is necessary to meet Baffinland’s operational requirements. As a result, Baffinland must continue to take preparatory steps to rescale its operation in the event that it is not successful in renewing its permit.
“Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that in the coming hours, impacted employees will be receiving termination notices.”
The terminations will take effect Sept. 25 and Oct. 11.
The mine represents nearly 23 per cent of the GDP for Nunavut.
“We feel both anger and disappointment that our members are being let go, in our view unnecessarily, because of constant delays at the NIRB in making timely decisions, and also at the federal government with more delays on making decisions…we already know that it will cost our members their livelihood,” said Gallagher.
“The very fact that termination notices have now been sent has had an immediate and devastating impact on employees at the mine, including many Inuit, and their ability to provide for themselves, their families and their communities.”