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

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

B.C. jury finds man guilty of Japanese exchange student’s murder

Natsumi Kogawa was found at empty heritage mansion shortly after she was reported missing in 2016

B.C. man accused of killing Belgian tourist along Highway 1 appears in court

Sean McKenzie, 27, made second court appearance since his arrest in connection with the murder of Amelie Sakkalis

Most Read