Talks back on
Ottawa next stop for bargaining teams in Nanisivik contract

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Nanisivik (Aug 21/00) - The next round of Nanisivik contract talks will take place in Ottawa at the end of the month.

That is when bargaining teams from United Steelworkers Local 9446 and Breakwater Resources Ltd. will meet with federally-appointed conciliator Tom Dynan.

Steelworkers are attempting to negotiate the mine's first-ever collective agreement.

Talks between the Steelworkers union, which represents 145 workers at the mine, and Breakwater Resources, broke off July 23. Bargaining commenced Feb. 1.

Bill Heath, Breakwater's vice-president of administration, said conciliation is another stage in the bargaining process. The company will not bargain through the media, he added.

"These workers joined our union because they wanted to improve their working conditions," Ron Schmidt, Steelworkers Western Canada assistant director, said in a statement.

"Since 1997 there have been no wage increases or profit-sharing bonuses. In some cases, incomes have been cut despite continuous record production," he added.

Work rotations, job security, contracting out, and Inuit concerns are areas the union is attempting to improve through bargaining.

"We are working extended work rotations at the mine, leaving our families 3,000 kilometres behind for 13 weeks at a time.

"We are working in an environment there the winter can last 10 months of the year and the sun is not seen from the end of October to the middle of February," Hiram House, Local 9446 president, said.

"Benefits like pay raises, profit-sharing bonuses and vacations make it bearable."

The Nanisivik base-metal mine, located at the northern tip of Baffin Island, has been operating since 1978. Breakwater acquired the mine in 1996.