March 20, 2006
Ekati Diamond Mine Owner and Workers Reach Stalemate
On the verge of a possible strike, the company that owns Canada's Ekati diamond mine is delaying its return to the bargaining table after members of the union representing the majority of the workforce at the mine rejected an agreement with the company last week.
According to the CBC, 71% of members of Public Service Alliance, the union that represents 400 of Ekati's 740 workers, rejected the agreement because many of the workers feel they receive unfair and unequal treatment because of their race. About 60% of the unionized workers at Ekati are aboriginal.
Workers rejected the agreement because it did not cover issues such as seniority, promotion opportunities, raises and wage inequality, the CBC reports.
Mine owner BHP Billiton will not agree to return to the bargaining table until April 18, a move that the union claims is uncooperative. After rejecting the deal last week, the union threatened a strike if negotiations did not resume quickly.
The Ekati diamond mine, Canada's first diamond mine to go online in January 1999, is located in the Northwest Territories of Canada.