Chanting “solidarity” and “don’t come back,” striking Compass Minerals salt miners in Goderich, Ontario, lined the entrance to the mine July 6 as about 30 scabs filed out of the mine with their faces covered.
The replacement workers had been trapped in the mine along with a number of company officials since July 4 when the strikers, members of Unifor Local 16-0, built a barricade of wooden pallets and blocked buses from bringing scabs into the mine. They did so in defiance of a court injunction limiting to four minutes the time vehicles entering the mine could be held up. When the court told them to remove the pallets, they complied, but replaced them with tractors, keeping up the barricade.
“There’s nothing better than seeing those scabs do the walk of shame,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias told the media. “We managed to get all of the scabs out of this facility.”
The 348 miners walked out and put up picket lines April 27 after the bosses demanded concessions that would wipe out working conditions won in hard-fought struggles over almost 60 years.
The bosses want to impose 12-hour shifts with up to four hours of mandatory overtime each day. They are demanding the workers agree to a workweek of up to 60 hours, with a rotated 72-hour week every fourth week, plus 20 Saturday overtime shifts a year. The bosses also demanded cuts in medical, dental and life insurance benefits for those who retire after 2021 and gutting seniority in job assignments. The company offered each worker a $10,000 signing bribe if they accepted these unsafe and humiliating conditions.
The strikers have won wide support throughout the community of 8,000. Some 500 Unifor members and supporters, including members of the teachers’ union, attended a solidarity barbecue near the mine June 28. More than 1,000 supporters turned out to join strikers’ pickets over the July 7-8 weekend.
The salt mine, which extends 549 meters — over one-third of a mile — under Lake Huron, is the largest in the world. The workers produce road salt used in Canada and the United States.
Send solidarity messages and financial support to the strikers at Unifor 16-0, P.O. Box 161, Goderich, Ontario, Canada N7A 3Z2.