The following Statement was issued on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UNW reaction to cancellation of DDM purchase
YELLOWKNIFE - Tuesday, October 13, 2020
On Friday, October 9, the UNW received notification from the management at Ekati that the proposed sale of DDM had failed to meet the conditions required through the CCAA process. This is concerning news for our members who work at Ekati, and for the NWT economy as a whole.
Details concerning the failure of the sale were circulated through a Canada-wide press release which was sent before local management or the Union had the opportunity to inform workers.
For our members to receive such news – on the eve of a holiday weekend – via the media before hearing from the employer directly is unacceptable.
Kurt Bergstrom is the UNW’s Regional Vice President for Kimberlite Region, which includes the Local representing Ekati workers. He is also a worker at Ekati, who has been temporarily laid off since the mine ceased operations in May.
"The unfortunate news released late last week by the employer is a major setback in what was looking to be a promising restart to their operations and getting our brothers and sisters back to work,” says Bergstrom. “I want to assure our members that the union will continue to reach out to the employer and put workers’ best interests at the forefront."
The uncertainty and lack of transparency throughout this process has taken a financial and emotional toll on our members, who depend on the continued operation of the mine to support their families and communities.
“There doesn’t seem to be any accountability on the part of these corporations to act in the best interests of northerners,” says Todd Parsons, UNW President. “What are our leaders putting in place to protect our workers and our economy from corporate entities with no personal stake in our future and who answer to no-one but their shareholders? Where is the due diligence to ensure that hardworking northerners and their families aren’t left out in the cold?”
While many industry lobbyists argue that too much “red tape” makes the NWT unfriendly to outside investment, the UNW feels that government regulations and enforcement must ensure that our environment and our residents’ livelihoods are protected.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many sectors,” says Parsons, “and it’s very frustrating, as a union, to have to sit on the sidelines and watch billion-dollar corporations play monopoly with people’s lives.”
The Employer provided the UNW with the information in Friday’s press release and in the memo sent to workers later that day. The Union hopes to hear more information from the employer on how this will affect the reopening of the mine and the jobs of members. The UNW/PSAC will continue working to ensure our members and their interests are represented during any proceedings moving forward.