The City of Campbell River says it’s working with the province on ways to support workers of the Myra Falls Mine, which indefinitely suspended operations and laid off hundreds of employees earlier this week.
On Monday, a laid off worker told CHEK News more than 300 people lost their jobs when the Singapore-based company behind the mine – Trafigura – filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.
Union workers at the mine say the closure came as a shock, as negotiations between Unifor and the company were still scheduled to take place in March, with no hint of trouble coming.
Unifor BC area director Mario Santos says he’s concerned that the company may not live up to its collective agreement when it comes to severance, which promised workers two weeks pay for every year of employment.
“That’s probably our biggest concern right now, is making sure our members are looked after as they go through this bankruptcy protection but we’re also concerned about the community in general,” he said Wednesday.
Other local businesses and First Nations are among creditors that Trafigura owes money to.
North Island Pumps, which sells and maintains equipment for the mine, says if it isn’t paid it will hurt the small company of five employees.
“They owe us roughly $250,000, so a quarter of a million, and for us being that small, it hurts,” said North Island Pumps office manager Shaun Olson on Wednesday.
On Thursday the City of Campbell River said it had partnered with the provincial Community Transition Services in an attempt to work with all sides – including workers, community partners, First Nations and the employer.
It said it will focus its work on transition services for impacted workers, and will try to “address the needs” of laid off workers and the local economy.
The city pointed to the North Island Employment Foundations Society for information on what to do if you’re laid off, and what steps are available for you next.
“The city is disappointed to hear that Myra Falls Mine Ltd. is suspending active mining and milling operations, and recognizes the significant and far-reaching impacts this announcement will have on many residents, businesses and families in Campbell River, especially around the holidays,” says Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl in a statement Thursday.
“The city’s focus at this time is supporting the workers and local businesses impacted by this announcement, and connecting with the many agencies and governments in place to ensure that supports and services are available to those in need.”
With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz and Laura Brougham