Con workers head to picket line
Union notifies Miramar that labor action to commence at midnight

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 13/98) - After a year of trying to hammer out a collective agreement, a strike by Con miners is just hours away, United Steelworkers of America Local 802 president Cliff Moroz said yesterday.

The action is expected to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

Moroz said mine owner Miramar Mining Corp. is not honoring the most recent collective agreement.

Under federal labor rules, the most recent agreement remains in effect until a new deal is reached.

Local 802 has been without a contract since April 30, 1997, when a three-year deal expired. The two sides have been negotiating since February of last year.

There are about 185 members of the union working at Con.

Last year, just after Christmas, employees were stunned by the announcement of a huge round of layoffs.

Miramar cut about 130 positions, forcing 20 miners and other employees out a job. It is believed the union has been able to recoup a handful of these jobs.

Moroz cited the layoff as an example of the company failing to live up to the prior collective agreement.

"They picked and chose who they laid off," disregarding seniority, Moroz said yesterday.

The union also cited increasing deterioration of safety, the transformation of casual positions into staff jobs and failure to accept worker input on how to make the mine more efficient as other reasons for the pending strike action.

A demand by the employer for "significant monetary concessions" was another reason given for notification of intent to strike. Calls to Miramar Mining officials were not returned.

Con mine is currently shut down for two weeks of maintenance.

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