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

Chilliwack prolific offender charged in four alleged incidents in 12 days

Branden Tanner busted for alleged smash-and-grab Nov. 30, then incidents Dec. 3, Dec. 8 and Dec. 11

Four companies vying to open cannabis stores in locations across Chilliwack

Rezoning applications for non-medical cannabis outlets pending, and some will require variances

Christmas cheer, crafts and music at Chilliwack and Yarrow libraries

Make festive ornaments out of old books while enjoying Christmas music at Chilliwack libraries

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

MAP: Christmas light displays in the Lower Mainland

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read