CLAC launches libel lawsuit
NWT Federation of Labor says it's not worried by threat

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 12/97) - The NWT Federation of Labor says it's undaunted by a threat of legal action against it by the Christian Labor Association of Canada (CLAC).

"I certainly won't be intimidated ... we'll still be carrying through with the motion," Evoy says.

The motion at issue was passed at the federation's April 27 convention in Yellowknife, it calls for the federation to monitor CLAC, which the federation claims offers low wages, and criticizes working conditions of CLAC workers at BHP's Koala diamond project.

CLAC is initiating legal action for libel against the NWT Federation of Labor for the resolution.

CLAC spokesman Co Vanderlaan said in an interview this week that "the entire resolution is an untruth."

The resolution was brought forward by the NWT's Building Trades Council and Boilermakers.

Evoy said CLAC's wages are $10.50 an hour for entry-level laborers and $18.50 an hour for pipefitters at the BHP site. Workers at Syncrude's northern Alberta construction project make $19.55 per hour and $23.73 per hour respectively, he said.

Even when he sent workers in 1983 to Norman Wells, they were making more than $15 an hour, Evoy added.

Vanderlaan, the Alberta-Saskatchewan director for CLAC, counters those figures are inaccurate.

Vanderlaan said CLAC workers at the BHP site such as journeymen are guaranteed $25 to $26 an hour, plus a productivity bonus up to $30. "No CLAC worker earns $10.50 an hour," he said.

"Laborers earn $18.20 to $22 an hour and apprentices are paid based on the Apprenticeship Training Act regulations. Our workers are paid as much or more as anywhere."

CLAC workers at BHP's Koala diamond mine camp work for Ledcor Industries, the company responsible for constructing the processing plant. They also work for Standard Electric. There are 70 CLAC workers at the site, but when construction speeds up, that figure will rise to 500, said Vanderlaan.

CLAC is a multi-craft union recognized as an official union by numerous labor relations boards.

It represents 20,000 workers, mainly in the construction and health services industries across Canada.