Job cuts under way
Giant layoffs top 100

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 08/99) - As the price of gold glitters, the shine on Giant mine has evaporated for dozens of its workers.

On Monday, receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers began laying off workers, Canadian Auto Workers Local 2304 president Marc Danis said.

By Wednesday morning, over 100 Giant miners were out of a job. That includes 23 people Monday, about 15 Tuesday and between 70 and 100 miners Wednesday, Danis said midday Wednesday.

PwC told the union on Monday which of its 200 members were first to get laid off. The layoffs began with maintenance, mechanical, electrical and warehouse workers.

Danis said the union is looking at legal action because the layoffs do not follow seniority.

"We're saying they're (PwC) are not following the collective agreement," Danis said.

Danis said the mill will likely be shut down, resulting in another round of job losses, in about two weeks.

After an employee buyout did not materialize by Sept. 22, the way was clear for Con mine owner Miramar Mining to buy the Giant mine. Miramar plans to process Giant ore at its Con mine.

In a court report dated Sept. 23, PwC said Miramar Mining had been selected the successful bidder for the Giant property.

Despite the fact that Miramar "outbid" other offers, there was no official disclosure of details of the bid. Details, which included laying off all 300 workers, were revealed by the CAW, the union representing Giant's hourly staff.

As for severance, an Ontario court did not make any determinations Monday, Danis said.

"For people with over eight years accumulated severance, it's just under a year's salary," Local 2304 plant chair Steve Petersen said. Severance formulas are included in the collective agreement.

Petersen said 11 month's severance is based not only on the collective agreement, but also on a 12-week requirement under GNWT law.

The huge job losses are occurring simultaneously with one of gold's biggest price rallies in years.

The price of gold hit $318.25 US in London Wednesday. It has traded as high as $340 US in New York earlier this week. Last month, gold was trading about $255 US an ounce.