Hundreds of skilled unionized jobs at risk without approval of an increase in production at Baffinland's Mary River Mine

OAKVILLE, ON, May 27, 2022 /CNW/ – The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793 (“Local 793”) and International Union of Operating Engineers (“IUOE”) urge the federal government to approve Baffinland’s request for an emergency order to allow the company to increase production at the Mary River Mine through to the end of 2022. This step is needed to safeguard the jobs of hundreds of skilled unionized workers, many of whom reside in Nunavut.

Our union represents workers in a wide variety of occupational categories in the construction, industrial and mining sectors, which in this case at the Mary River Mine includes over 1,000 heavy machinery operators, heavy haul truck drivers, millwrights, electricians, welders, mechanics, crane operators, labourers, warehouse technicians and many other occupations.  In total, Baffinland employs over 2,500 employees and contractor workers.

Since its inception, the Mary River Mine has provided good paying jobs for highly trained and skilled Canadian workers from across the country, including hundreds of workers from Nunavut who continue to be prioritized for training opportunities.  The mine provides royalties and community benefits that directly benefit the local Inuit communities.  We understand that the mine represents nearly 23% of the GDP for Nunavut and is a vital component for Nunavut’s future economic growth. 

Baffinland’s Inuit workers residing in Nunavut were sent home during most of the pandemic to ensure their communities’ safety.  It has only been in the last few months that all Inuit workers living in Nunavut have returned to the mine to continue their apprenticeships and skills upgrading.  Having any reduction in the workforce would drastically undermine this progress.  For the rest of Local 793 members working at the mine, losing their employment when the cost of living has skyrocketed, and good paying jobs are scarce in many parts of Canada would be devastating. “Recovery from the pandemic requires maintaining and more importantly growing quality jobs, not losing them”, said Mike Gallagher, Local 793 Business Manager.

“If Baffinland is not granted an emergency order to increase production to 6 million tonnes we are very concerned there will be significant layoffs for our members at the mine,” said Gallagher.  “This would have a devastating impact on the mine’s workers, including many Inuit, and their ability to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

The request for an emergency order is an interim measure that will allow Local 793 members to continue working through to the end of 2022. “We know that the company cannot compete on a global scale if it is unable to grow and increase its production at the mine,” said Lionel Railton, IUOE Canadian Regional Director. “We encourage the federal government to work with Baffinland to identify and develop a long-term solution so to ensure the company is able to maintain employment for Local 793 members and all other workers into the future.”

For the sake of our members, including our Inuit workers, and Nunavut’s economic future, we are urging the federal government to do the right thing, and approve Baffinland’s requested emergency order to increase production to 6 million tonnes so that our members can have the certainty of their continued and future employment at the mine.

SOURCE International Union Of Operating Engineers – Local 793

Hundreds of skilled unionized jobs at risk without approval of an increase in production at Baffinland's Mary River Mine WeeklyReviewer

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