Elkview miners back to work

Striking Elkview miners returned to work Friday after accepting an agreement with Teck.

Striking Elkview miners returned to work Friday after accepting an agreement with Teck.

The new five-year agreement ends a labour dispute that began in January, when more than 700 members of United Steelworkers Local 9346 walked out of the open pit mine and set up picket lines.

“The membership voted 59 per cent in favour of accepting the agreement and went back to work Friday,” said Marcia Smith, Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “We are really pleased that people are back to work.”

The agreement, which was tentatively announced Monday, replaces one which expired at the end of October last year.

It follows an earlier deal that was voted down by the union members.

Union president Chris Nand said he would have preferred a larger majority to have voted in favour of the offer.

“I am glad the workers are back to work but I have mixed feelings,” he said. “It is hard to read the membership – I think maybe they wanted more company contribution to the retirement savings plans. Teck only agreed to a two per cent increase instead of a nine, which we originally asked for. However the company has addressed our two biggest issues in this agreement and we live in a democracy, so that’s just the way it goes.”

The Elkview mine, located three kilometres east of Sparwood, has a workforce of 850. 692 of those are unionized employees, according to Teck. The workers have been without a contract since October 31, when the last deal expired.

The Elkview facility has the capacity to mine 5.6 million tonnes of coal per year, second to the Fording River mine, with a capacity of eight million tonnes per year.

The labour contract at Fording River expires April 30.

Teck cut its 2011 guidance for coal production last month by about one million tonnes due to a tough winter and the Elkview labour dispute.

The company said it expected coal sales in 2011 to be between 23.5 tonnes and 24.5 million tonnes, compared to previously announced guidance of 24.5 to 25.5 million tonnes.

The reduction followed an earlier announcement that the company would sell between 4.6 million and 4.9 million tonnes of coal compared with an average of 5.3 million tonnes in recent years.

At the time, the company said the strike had not been a significant reason for the lower sales as deliveries of Elkview coal from inventory continued.

Teck is Canada’s largest diversified miner, focused on copper, steelmaking coal and zinc. It also owns an interest in a large oilsands project.

Just Posted

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

Most Read