Con­cerns con­tinue about lo­cal em­ploy­ment at Fluorspar mine

St. Lawrence coun­cil wants to meet with CFI

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - BY COLIN FAR­RELL ST. LAWRENCE, N.L. colin.far­rell@south­erngazette.ca

Eigh­teen months af­ter res­i­dents of the St. Lawrence area staged a demon­stra­tion at the Canada Fluorspar Inc (CFI) mine to lobby for lo­cal jobs, it ap­pears there’s still some lin­ger­ing frus­tra­tion.

The is­sue came up for dis­cus­sion at the town coun­cil meet­ing on Oct. 23.

St. Lawrence Mayor Paul Pike would like to meet with CFI of­fi­cials to dis­cuss con­cerns about hir­ing.

“I am still get­ting calls from ci­ti­zens look­ing for work,” Pike ex­plained dur­ing the Oct. 23 coun­cil meet­ing. “I was talk­ing to a guy the other day who is a jour­ney­man elec­tri­cian who had got­ten laid off, ap­plied to go back and never even got an in­ter­view.”

The town met with com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives last March af­ter lo­cal ci­ti­zens staged a protest about hir­ing. At the time a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for CFI said hir­ing was mainly done lo­cally with 53 per cent of work­ers com­ing from St. Lawrence and an­other 29 per cent from the Burin Penin­sula.

The mayor says the com­pany should do an as­sess­ment of who in the town is look­ing for work,” said Pike, adding, the town shouldn’t have to do that work. “If they want us to do it, we’ll do it.”

In a fol­low up in­ter­view with The South­ern Gazette, Pike said the town would like to see about 50 to 60 per cent of work­ers come from St. Lawrence.

Ac­cord­ing to the mayor, “The man­ager (of the site) is say­ing some­where be­tween 31-33 per cent of the work force would be lo­cal hires from the town of St. Lawrence and Lit­tle St Lawrence.”

Pike said he is not op­posed to see­ing peo­ple from around the Burin Penin­sula get­ting jobs in the mine, “but we also feel that there are more lo­cals out there that need work and that they should be given pri­or­ity.”

No in­crease

“From a busi­ness sense, we’ve seen one new busi­ness open and we saw one that left town,” Pike said in re­gards to Keyin Col­lege which set-up a lo­ca­tion in the lo­cal parish hall to of­fer train­ing re­lated to the mine.

“We haven’t seen any real growth in the com­mu­nity when it comes to new busi­ness start-ups. There hasn’t been any in­creased rev­enues (for) lo­cal busi­ness own­ers due to it (the mine) ei­ther,” the mayor con­tin­ued. “The peo­ple that are work­ing here are not spend­ing money here. A lot were geared up to han­dle the in­flux of peo­ple that were com­ing in, when in ac­tual fact we’re see­ing none of that.”

CFI re­sponse

The South­ern Gazette con­tacted the com­pany’s me­dia re­la­tions team again this month, seek­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

Com­pany CEO Bill Dobbs was trav­el­ling and could not be reached for an in­ter­view.

Erin Cur­ran, with m5 Mar­ket­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­stead pro­vided an e-mailed state­ment from Dobbs.

“As one of the largest em­ploy­ers in the area, CFI val­ues its re­la­tion­ship with the town and res­i­dents of St. Lawrence along with the rest of the Burin Penin­sula,” read the e-mail. “CFI has de­vel­oped and strength­ened re­la­tion­ships with busi­nesses and stake­hold­ers in the area and we feel proud to be part of a busi­ness com­mu­nity, which is work­ing to strengthen the eco­nomic di­ver­sity of the re­gion and prov­ince.”

The state­ment goes on to say that the com­pany is proud to be op­er­at­ing on the Burin Penin­sula, “…and wher­ever pos­si­ble and when it makes good busi­ness sense, we use lo­cal sup­pli­ers and ven­dors to sup­port min­ing op­er­a­tions and ini­tia­tives. We be­lieve in in­vest­ing in the area in which we op­er­ate for the bet­ter­ment of the com­mu­nity and busi­nesses alike.”

The South­ern Gazette con­tacted the com­pany’s me­dia re­la­tions depart­ment for ad­di­tional com­ment on the number of peo­ple work­ing at the mine, as well as if they sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses, but no re­sponse was re­ceived by dead­line.

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