Down to 50
Giant layoffs continue

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 15/99) - By mid-week, only about 50 of the unionized workers at Giant still had jobs, according to Canadian Auto Workers Local 2304 spokesperson, Steve Petersen.

Still outstanding is the issue of the order of the layoffs, Petersen adds. It does "not recognize bumping rights," Petersen said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the issue was still before an Ontario court. The layoffs are part of the Giant mine shutdown.

Under a deal not yet finalized, Con mine owner Miramar Mining is to buy Giant and process Giant's ore at Con. Only as many as 50 Giant workers might be rehired by Miramar. Before the layoffs, about 280 people worked at Giant. Of that number, about 200 were unionized.

Petersen said Local 2304 members still on the job will likely be laid off over the next week.

As the layoffs continue, efforts continue to find other work or training.

"The closure of Giant Mine provides a large pool of ready, willing and skilled workers living in the NWT," Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce president Gord Van Tighem said in a release.

"There are a number of existing government programs for employers to hire (and/or) retrain Northern workers and to expand their workforces," he adds.

Bob Doherty, executive director of the Northern Manufacturers' Association said, "In a period when the North is seeking to expand its mining, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors, resident employees who would otherwise be brought in from the south are an attractive labour pool for Northern employees."

Doherty also said, "Workers living in the North purchase locally, pay NWT taxes and generate federal transfer payments."

NWT businesses are planning to distribute an inventory of skilled workers and a synopsis of government programs to assist employers.

Local 2304 president Marc Danis said networking with the business community has been a "new experience" for the union.

Many of the local's members have transferable skills and the priority is to find jobs for laid-off workers.

"We understand that these jobs may not be with unionized employers and that they may require unemployed miners to take a cut in pay."

But, adds Danis, "a job is a job."