No agreement reached in Elkview strike

Hopes that the Elkview miners’ strike would end this week have been crushed after workers rejected a new five year collective agreement presented by Teck.

  • Mar. 27, 2011 2:00 p.m.

Striking miners at one of the Elkview picket lines.

Hopes that the Elkview miners’ strike would end this week have been crushed after workers rejected a new five year collective agreement presented by Teck.

The package was rejected by 57 per cent of the members of Local 9346 of the United Steelworkers of America after voting on Saturday.

Teck had hoped to restart full production at the mine by Tuesday.

But Union president, Chris Nand, said the strike will continue because the members were not happy with the terms of the agreement.

“We had membership meetings last week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” he said. “The members felt that the main issues were not addressed properly. The ball is now in Teck’s court and we are waiting for them to contact us about meeting again.

“We are putting a package together this week and we will give that to Teck next time we meet. I am not sure when that will be. Meanwhile, the strike will continue.”

Marcia Smith, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Teck Coal said they are very disappointed the package was rejected.

“We worked really hard with the bargaining committee to put the agreement together,” she said. “We thought it was a good offer. We are trying to arrange a meeting to reinitiate discussions with the bargaining committee. Obviously we want to get people back to work.”

More than 700 members of United Steelworkers Local 9346 walked out at the open pit mine at the end of January.

The 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.

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