Between 40 and 70 United Steelworkers could lose their jobs by Feb. 16 due to reduced production at KGHM International's McCreedy West Mine in Sudbury.
“I don't know how many will be laid off, but our goal is to negotiate early retirement offers for people who would like to do that so we can save jobs for less senior people,” said Myles Sullivan, area co-ordinator with United Steelworkers Local 2020.
Sullivan said 70 layoffs would be the worst case scenario.“We haven't sat down and looked at their manpower requirements,” he said. “What they're planning is to absorb those people at the Morrison Mine.”
Sullivan said their collective agreement includes a clause to ensure contractors cannot continue to work at the site in place of union members.
The Local 2020 members were informed about the job cuts Jan. 24, following the announcement KGHM would no longer ship nickel ore from the mine to Glencore's Sudbury operations.
Glencore invoked a 30-day cancellation clause in its contract with KGHM. The company indicated it had sufficient nickel stockpiles for its processing facility.
“We have an ongoing relationship with Glencore and this is in no way a reflection of our relationship with that organization,” said Adrian McFadden, KGHM International's vice-president of underground mining. “Beyond McCreedy, we operate the Craig Mine site that is actually owned by the Glencore group.”
McFadden added operations at the McCreedy Mine will not come to a complete standstill. The company has an ongoing contract to deliver copper ore from the mine to Vale.
In 2013, KGHM ended its operations at Sudbury's Podolsky Mine. The company was able to avoid layoffs in that instance by moving employees to other operations.
McFadden said the company will not be in a position to avoid layoffs this year.