A Giant fight
Working group formed to challenge Miramar

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 10/99) - With only 15 days to save the jobs of 280 Giant employees, Canadian Autoworkers (CAW) union leaders are asking all levels of government to fight with and for them.

An emergency meeting was held Wednesday that had MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Yellowknife MLAs, DIAND, and RWED officials in attendance.

Together, they were asked to come up with a plan to counter the Miramar Mines offer to buy Giant Mine. The 15 day time limit was given by the receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers after they accepted Miramar's proposal.

"The goal and the objective of this meeting was to form a working group, which we did," CAW area director Dale Paterson said.

"The group's task is to put together a business plan that we can ultimately present to the receivers. To put this plan together, we'll need the co-operation of various governments and their departments, as well as the community."

CAW president Marc Danis said the good news is he's confident the working group can come up with a more attractive package than what Miramar submitted.

"I don't think we anticipate any difficulty in preparing a better offer," Danis said.

"The (Miramar) proposal right now is not good for the people of the NWT and it's something we can improve upon."

Danis had publicly voiced his frustration over the inactivity of MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew on the situation. After she failed to return several of his calls, he questioned her ability to understand the magnitude of the problem and the effect the mine closing will have on her constituents.

When she showed up to the meeting, his faith was somewhat renewed.

"I was happy to see her and to see her participating," Danis said.

"She's a powerful ally and we're glad to see she's in our corner."

Blondin-Andrew has agreed to keep in close contact with DIAND and DIAND has agreed to keep her informed as the situation develops.

"I think the anxiety level is high and I understand that," Blondin-Andrew said.

"We've been dealing with the issues (at the federal level) and I've been briefed about the mine takeover. I'm genuinely concerned about the workers."

Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry will be part of the working group. After the meeting, he agreed that GNWT support is essential to prepare a successful bid for Giant.

"The GNWT would bear the brunt of a (Giant Mine) closure through the loss of $13 million in federal transfer payments. We also lose the tax and consumer base those workers represent," Henry said.

"All the players were at this meeting and there was a general understanding that it is a horrible situation for the workers, their families, and businesses in Yellowknife."

He said that because of the looming deadline, moving quickly is essential for success.

"There's a time crunch involved. In the interest of time, a committee of key players was formed to explore all possibilities for a continuation of the mine operation with as much of the current workforce as possible," Henry said.

The CAW said they will be releasing a list of working group members as soon as it's completed.