Ekati Mine Union Appeals to Retail Jewelers

April 24, 2006

Ekati Mine Union Appeals to Retail Jewelers

The union representing striking mine workers at the Ekati diamond mine in Canada's Northwest Territories has appealed to retail jewelers to express their concern about the contract dispute between workers and mine owner BHP Billiton.

The union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), wrote letters to more than 33 jewelry stores in Cananda and the United States that sell the mine's trademarked Aurias diamonds, according to the Canada NewsWire Group. "We want all retail jewelers who sell Ekati diamonds to know about the dispute and hear directly from the union about why we are on strike for a fair first collective agreement," said Jean-Fran┴ois Des Lauriers, the union's executive vice President North, said in a statement today.

Des Lauriers said the union is not asking the jewelers to take sides, but hopes they will express concerns about the impact of the ongoing dispute on retail sales. Ekati produces 6% of the world's diamonds.

Todd Parsons, president of the Union of Northern Workers, a division of the PSAC, also told the news agency that it was misleading to promote Ekati diamonds as "conflict-free" diamonds, since their source is embroiled in a major labor conflict.

The strike at the mine has been going on for more than two weeks. The striking workers, many of whom are aboriginal, are disputing a contract proposed by BHP Billiton that they claim does not address pay inequities and other equality issues.

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