Salt mine con­tract talks re­sume, but fears re­main

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KATH­LEEN SMITH POST­MEDIA NEWS

GODERICH — As con­tract talks re­sumed Thurs­day, buoy­ing hopes for the 370 lo­cal work­ers on strike from the world’s largest un­der­ground salt mine, a lit­tle ten­sion was in the air, too.

While pick­ets on the line ex­pressed op­ti­mism as talks started again be­tween their union, Uni­for, and the mine’s Amer­i­can own­ers, Com­pass Min­er­als, the sight of what work­ers be­lieve to be sup­ply trucks brought in by Com­pass raised con­cerns.

The trucks, union mem­bers fear, are sup­ply trucks for re­place­ment work­ers — some from as far away as New Brunswick — whose pres­ence has been the big­gest sore spot dur­ing the strike, which is near­ing the end of its 11th week.

Talks be­tween Uni­for and Com­pass Min­er­als were held un­der a me­dia black­out Thurs­day, with no im­me­di­ate up­date on progress of the dis­cus­sions.

Last week, pick­ets erected bar­ri­cades to block re­place­ment work­ers from en­ter­ing the mine. Com­pass Min­er­als went to court to have the block­ade re­moved, but trac­tors from nearby farms were soon block­ing the path.

That set the stage for the re­sump­tion of talks be­tween the union and Com­pass.

The strike be­gan April 27. Com­pass Min­er­als has said it made the union an of­fer that ad­dressed all out­stand­ing is­sues and in­cluded wage in­creases and ben­e­fit im­prove­ments.

The union had main­tained the com­pany is de­mand­ing con­ces­sions such as manda­tory over­time, re­duced ben­e­fits, and a weak­en­ing of con­tract­ing-out pro­vi­sions.

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