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Union responds to criticism

Davies maintains fair practices office, not union, got him his job back

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 14/01) - The union that represents Con miners is doing everything it can to serve its workers, says its president, but it is being thwarted by a Giant Mine management style at Con mine.

United Steelworkers of America Local 802 president Fernand Denault responded this week to charges the GNWT's fair practices office did a better job of protecting a Con worker than the union.

"We have done everything we can," said Denault. "Right now the company is breaking the law."

The criticism of the union came from Fred Davies, the Con worker who won a fair practices ruling against Con owner Miramar Mining Corporation.

In a Nov. 9 ruling, the fair practices office awarded Davies a year's pay and benefits and ordered Miramar to follow through on a job it offered Davies more than a year ago.

During the hearing of the complaint, Miramar representatives said the company wanted Davies to drop his fair practices complaint before he came back to work as a hoist operator.

Fair practices officer Elaine Keenan Bengts reminded Miramar it is illegal to make a job offer conditional on the dropping of a fair practices complaint.

Denault said the tactic was typical of the management style the union has encountered since a number of managers were hired on from Giant Mine, when owner Royal Oak Mines went into receivership in 1999.

Accusations denied

Con mine manager John Stard disagreed in no uncertain terms -- "That's a bunch of bullshit."

Stard, former manager of Giant mine, refused to comment further. Miramar has refused to comment on the fair practices ruling.

Denault said the job offered Davies was a settlement the company made at the third stage of a grievance process Davies initiated.

"The company chose not to respect that settlement," Denault said.

"They wronged him and they wanted that erased."

Davies said he still believes it was the fair practices complaint, not the grievance process, that prompted the job offer.

"The only good that ever came was because of that fair practices complaint," he said.

Adding it should never have been a condition, Denault and grievance committee chair Dave Mathison said Davies would have been hired back if he had dropped the complaint.

"I knew they wouldn't have," Davies said.

So far, Davies has yet to collect either the money or the job he was awarded.