Government pledges to help displaced workers transition into new jobs
Displaced mine workers in Wabush have been offered help from the provincial government with apprenticeship and worker development programs.
Wabush Mines. — TC Media file photo
Approximately 400 mine employees have been worried about the future ever since Cliffs Natural Resources announced last week that the Wabush Scully Iron Ore Mine was being idled.
Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien said his department has a range of programs for those affected.
“We can train people not currently trained. We understand there is a highly skilled workforce at Wabush Mines as well,” he said.
Last week, Premier Tom Marshall said cabinet ministers will visit Labrador West regularly to work with the communities to help with the transition.
Ministers have met with union officials, municipal leaders and companies to identify opportunities for skilled workers as quickly as possible.
O’Brien was joined Tuesday by Innovation, Business and Rural Development Minister Terry French, Darin King, the minister responsible for the Labour Relations Agency, and Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nick McGrath.
Four employees from Advanced Education and Skills will be on the ground in Labrador West, helping people with decisions regarding their future.
“We want to make sure they actually stay (in the region)” O’Brien said. “This area is important to us and we want to retain the workforce currently here.”
O’Brien said there is a clear communication line open with the workers and the government will keep them in the loop about every opportunity that presents itself.
His department will soon begin collecting an inventory of human resources from the union and matching skill sets with opportunities, including with the Iron Ore Company of Canada, which recently posted 75 available positions.
“I feel very confident from my position that we’ll find a solution and this area of the province will be an economic engine, as it has been in the past,” O’Brien said.
He added that the provincial government has seen communities in similar situations recover.
“We never left a community stranded. We never left a rock unturned and we won’t leave a rock unturned here. We’ll work with the companies and make sure it’s in the best interest of the people with regard to any transaction.”
King said pensions and retirement packages have not been discussed, but collective agreements are in place that the company will have to follow and anything not contained in the collective agreement will have to abide by the Labour Relations Act.
The union and company will soon enter a negotiation process, and King said mediation services have been offered.