Ekati mine workers ratify 4-year deal with Dominion Diamond

Unionized workers at the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories have ratified a new four-year deal, according to the Union of Northern Workers.

The deal includes a five per cent wage increase over the life of the contract, and maintains vacation, sick leave and severance policies from the previous contract.

"It's not the kind of deal we would have liked to have gotten, but it's the best deal I think we could get right now," said Jack Bourassa, vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

"It's something we both can stand on and we can walk away from."

The deal covers more than 500 workers in UNW Local 3050 working at the mine, located 310 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. Voting took place over four weeks in order to cover the shift changes at the mine. 

Negotiations have been ongoing since 2015, with talks breaking down several times during the process. The deal is backdated to 2015 and runs until May 2019.

At one point, both the company and the union had separate complaints brought forward to the Canadian Industrial Relations board.

Bourassa said the contentious negotiation process would not affect the union's relationship with the company going forward.  

"It's just part and parcel of negotiations where each side will bargain as hard as they can in favour of the people they represent," Bourassa said.

"But as far as the members themselves and Dominion Diamond, I think everything is fine."