Manitoba Hudbay workers go on strike in Flin Flon and Snow Lake

An employee works at Hudbay's zinc plant in Flin Flon, Man.
An employee works at Hudbay's zinc plant in Flin Flon, Man. Brian Pieters / Hudbay handout / The Canadian Press

FLIN FLON, Man. — Hudbay workers in Flin Flon and Snow Lake, Man., went on strike Saturday.

The union representing the workers announced Friday negotiations with the mining company had failed and they would go on strike Saturday at noon.

Hudbay Minerals Inc. (TSX:HBM) confirmed in a news release that 180 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local No. 1848 began a strike at noon Saturday.

The striking workers represent about 12 per cent of Hudbay’s 1,460 person workforce in Manitoba, the company said.

The union has said members want changes in wages and pensions.

It said 96 per cent of its members voted against an offer from the company last month.

Hudbay said it has a contingency plan in place and expects its operations to continue.

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“Hudbay sought a mutually negotiated agreement over several months and does not believe the strike action is necessary,” the company said in the release.

The union said on its website last month that one of its main objectives was to reduce the gap between apprentice and certified trade wage rates. It said it also wanted issues such as grievance procedures and contracting out addressed.

It said members were left with no other option but to strike.

“We offered to assist management with a controlled shutdown of all operations in the event a strike, but they rejected this offer outright,” union representative Ian Morland said in a news release on Thursday.

“They believe they can run the equipment without us. But we repair and maintain this equipment and it will break down if it is not maintained properly. This could have been avoided,” he added.

Hudbay produces zinc, copper, gold and silver.

Hudbay spokesman Scott Brubacher said last month that the company’s offer was generous — a wage increase of nearly 11 per cent for certified mechanics, pipefitters and machinists, a 10-per-cent hike in the pension, plus an improved benefit plan.

The union said on its website Friday that the company refused to move on its offer.

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“None of the outstanding language issues were addressed and the wage enhancements still leave us far behind the wages paid to apprentices and certified trades at sites in The Pas and Thompson, Man.,” said union representative Ian Morland.