VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Members of the United Steelworkers Union (USW) will vote on Sunday whether to stage a walkout at Canadian diversified miner Teck Resources’ Highland Valley Copper mine.
About 1 050 workers said they have been working without a collective agreement in place since last year and now, against a backdrop of higher copper prices and strong fundamentals for the red metal going forward, the USW workers are kicking against Teck's demands for concessions from the workers, USW staff representative and lead negotiator Randy Gatzka said in a statement on Friday.
"With prices of copper on the rise and the global demand for copper strong, stopping production at Highland Valley Copper will have an immediate impact on the company's bottom line," Gatzka threatened.
"Our union has tried to work with management to negotiate a fair deal for our members, with working families in mind. Teck shows no desire to have meaningful discussions and refuses to come to the table with anything but millions of dollars in concessions. For a company that is boasting about record profits to their shareholders, the workers are left wondering why they are not sharing in these unparalleled increases in profitability," he said.
"We are focused on negotiating a modern, updated collective agreement that is fair and reasonable to our employees and supports the ongoing viability of Highland Valley Copper. It is our hope that the union will come back to the table and work with us to reach a fair and modern agreement," a Teck spokesperson told Mining Weekly Online.
USW Local 7619 president Kyle Wolff added that Teck could come to the table and negotiate a settlement.
“Our demands are simple, we want to maintain what we have and achieve reasonable increases on wages. The problem from my point of view is a management team that is unpredictable and focused on stripping away rights that workers have built over decades of collective bargaining," Wolff said.
Teck is expected to announce another strong financial quarterly report on July 27. In the first quarter, Teck experienced substantially higher commodity prices, which had a significant positive impact on profits attributable to shareholders.
Adjusted profits attributable to shareholders rose from C$0.03 a share in 2016, to C$1.16 a share in early 2017. Based on continued high commodity prices, Teck – Canada's largest diversified mining company – is expected to announce more positive news for investors.