Labrador West has been dealt another significant economic blow, with 150 layoff notices going out Thursday to unionized workers with the Iron Ore Company of Canada.
The workers are members of Local 5795 of the United Steelworkers, which represents some 1,400 people at the operation, said president Ron Thomas.
The layoffs come amid a significant drop in commodity prices, and many were expecting cost-cutting measures from the mining giant. IOC is majority owned by Rio Tinto, and employs roughly 2,500 people in Labrador West and Sept-Îles, Que. Labrador City Mayor Karen Oldford said it was a “sad day” for the community, but the number was roughly what the town expected if there were going to be layoffs.
“All we can do is try to work with the families that are going to be affected and hope that the commodity prices will turn around quickly, just as quickly as they went down, in order to try to get people back to work,” she said.
Earlier efforts by the company to cut costs at Labrador City failed, with the union overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed wage freeze in February. There was also very little participation in early retirement incentives.
This is the most significant job reduction at IOC since the early 1990s.
‘Once the flood gates open’
Thomas was not available for an interview Thursday, but texted the word “terrible” when asked how he felt about the job cuts.
Those classified as an operator/maintainer were hit hardest by the cuts with 118 positions eliminated, while 29 labourers will also lose their jobs.
Those in the trades were largely untouched, but Mitchell Mouland, a mechanic and third generation employee with IOC, said there’s still uncertainty.
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