Mount Polley Mining Corp. has to pay lost wages to 26 employees they laid off early this year due to financial losses they said were beyond their control because of the 2014 tailings pond breach. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo.

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

The B.C. Labour Relations Board has ruled Mount Polley Mining Corp. must pay laid off mine workers lost wages after the company failed to give them 60 days’ notice before laying them off earlier this year.

In her July 10 decision, board associate chair Jennifer Glougie said the employer breached a section of the Labour Relations Act by failing to give that advanced notice to 26 employees in January and February.

The company argued the layoffs were necessary because of its financial loss resulting from the tailings pond breach on August 2014. It said in the three and a half years since, it has expended approximately $205 million on remediation activities and new equipment, while having net earnings of only $50 million.

READ MORE: Staged layoffs at Mount Polley in 2018 will impact 78 jobs

“It says its parent company decided that further losses in 2018 were unacceptable,” Glougie said in background information in the decision.

Mount Polley decided at that point to temporarily reduce pit operations to reduce the loss, which forced the layoffs.

Glougie rejected the company’s argument that they didn’t need to give 60 days’ notice because of their financial situation, accepting the union’s position that the company’s losses were not beyond its control.

“The tailings pond breach, the cost of remediating that breach, and the significant financial losses the employer suffered as a result are not new or unforeseen,” Glougie said.

She said while the union and company have engaged in discussions, the union said the employer has provided no definitive committee as to when the employees will be recalled to work.

The decision comes at a time when employees have been on strike for the past seven weeks now, manning picket lines 24/7 at Bootjack Road, Gavin Lake Road and the Ditch Road near the mine east of Williams Lake.

The two parties are back at the table and expected to continues talks on Monday.

READ MORE: Talks scheduled as Mount Polley Mine strike enters seventh week

It is approaching four years since the Mount Polley tailings breach sent more than 24 million cubic metres of mining waste and forest debris into pristine rivers, streams and lakes, such as Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.

All eyes are on this year’s salmon run into Quesnel Lake and its tributaries to see whether the breach had an impact on that year’s salmon fry leaving the system for the ocean and being able to find their way home to spawn.

Several other studies are underway on Quesnel Lake, which bore the brunt of the breach, to determine the lasting impacts.

The company was never fined for the breach, believed to be the biggest spill in Canada’s mining history.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Helping with Christmas bird count is ‘citizen science’

Port Alberni’s bird count will be Dec. 28, 2019; volunteers are needed

BUDGET 2020: Port Alberni Fire Department needs new equipment

Police services ask for funding for community policing office

Child care sector feels the squeeze in Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

There are five children for every licensed child care space in the ACRD

Alberni Valley Community Forest manager hosts open house

More trails registered in community forest

EDITORIAL: We all have a say in Port Alberni’s annual budget

The City of Port Alberni released its proposed five-year financial plan for 2020-2024…

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read