Raglan Mine preparing for ‘longer conflict’ as strike nears 3-month mark

Site contractors and other non-unionized employees taking on some production and site maintenance

Raglan Mine’s unionized employees have been away from the site for nearly three months since voting to strike on May 27. (File photo)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Raglan Mine is preparing for an ongoing strike at the mine to last a long time.

Work at the nickel mine, located in Nunavik, came to a halt May 27 after 630 members of the United Steelworkers union voted to strike. The union and Glencore Group, the mine’s parent company, had been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the end of March.

Next week the strike will enter the three-month mark.

Raglan Mine is now getting ready for winter with a lower level of production due to the absence of unionized staff, said mine spokesperson Amélie Rouleau.

“We are preparing the site and our teams for a longer conflict,” she said.

Work is underway to get the concentrator, which begins the raw nickel refining process, running at about 25 per cent of what would be its usual operation.

With that going, the mine can continue shipping products from the raw material it has available.

Raglan Mine is located in the northeast region of the Ungava Peninsula. It is the largest employer in Nunavik, with close to 1,200 workers who rotate in and out of the mine throughout the year.

Throughout the summer, talks involving a mediator have reopened and broken down. The mediator continues to be involved in negotiations.

On July 10, Glencore presented an offer to the union. Ten days later, 76.7 per cent of members voted to reject it.

In the meantime, Raglan Mine site contractors and other non-unionized employees are taking on some of the production and site maintenance work.

“It’s obviously way slower than normal, but it’s still moving, that’s the good news,” Rouleau said.

Union representative Cimon Guy, a member of its negotiating committee, said his side is not surprised that Raglan is getting ready for winter and an increase of operations without them.

“These big companies, they have contingency plans,” Guy said.

“We expected it, they’re doing their thing, and that’s totally normal.”

This month, Makivik Corp. will start sending 2022 Raglan Trust cheques to Nunavik beneficiaries. The money is contributed by the mine to Makivik.

The amount Makivik sends out through the trust cheques varies depending on profits at the mine.

According to Rouleau, the strike should not have an impact on this year’s cheques, but it might next year.

“It does have an impact for our host communities and that’s why we’ve been trying to minimize, as much as possible, the impact,” Rouleau said.

Despite negotiations seeming to be at a standstill after nearly three months, both sides still say they are hopeful about reaching a deal, and want to put this dispute behind them.

“I just hope we can get back to negotiating and we can settle this,” Guy said.

“People, at the end of the day, they just want to work. … It’s too bad this conflict is keeping back some honest workers who just want to get the job done.”

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Never trust a union. “Yellowknife Mines – Lest we forget”

  2. Posted by Colin on

    Given that the economy is turning down in China, the US and Europe, it’s highly probable that the mine will close. Same thing for Baffinland. Inuit could have bought both the Raglan mine and Baffinland with land settlement money. Then they could have been in the driver’s seat. Then again, how many Inuit pilots, accountants and even counter staff does Canadian North/First Air employ some 30 plus years after Makkivik bought it?


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