Workers at salt mine in Pugwash go on strike

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Salt is seen stockpiled in Halifax in August. Workers at a salt mine in Pugwash, N.S., have walked off the job.  (Paul Poirier/CBC - image credit)
Salt is seen stockpiled in Halifax in August. Workers at a salt mine in Pugwash, N.S., have walked off the job. (Paul Poirier/CBC - image credit)

The workers at a salt mine in Pugwash, N.S., are on strike, with 90 employees walking off the job on Friday.

The workforce has been without a contract since October 2020. The president of Unifor Local 823 said members are concerned with contract changes that would affect job security. Fifty other workers have already been laid off.

"We wanted a deal, we had four things we asked for in exchange for certain things," said Mark Shaffer. "They just flat out said no and so I feel we were pushed into a corner."

The mine is operated by Windsor Salt, which is headquartered in Pointe-Claire, Que., and produces salt used in everything from road de-icing to food.

There has been a hostile work environment at the Pugwash salt mine for the past 10 years, according to Shaffer.

Winter coming

In a statement, Windsor Salt company officials said they were "disappointed" an agreement had not been reached. It also said its latest offer is "fair to the employees and fair to the business," and includes wage increases, a signing bonus and improved benefits.

There was an unsuccessful round of conciliation in July.

Over the summer the company stockpiled road salt in both Halifax and Summerside, P.E.I. Windsor Salt said in its statement it has "a contingency plan to ensure the region has de-icing salt throughout the winter."

Shaffer said if salt is removed from the stockpiles, picket lines will be set up at both the Halifax and Summerside locations.

The Pugwash operation was bought by an American-based corporation, Stone Canyon, in April.

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