GODERICH, ONT.—A rural community is rallying around salt mine workers who have been embroiled in a strike since April, a disagreement that has involved wooden pallet barricades, demonstrations and busloads of replacement workers.
Goderich, home to just under 8,000 people, sits on top of a massive underground salt mine that spans around 7 square kilometres, stretching underneath the eastern shore of Lake Huron. At 549 metres below the lake, mine owner Compass Minerals says it’s the largest mine of its kind in the world.
But the activity in the past few months hasn’t been down in the mine; it’s been above ground on the picket line, as around 350 striking workers face off against the American company. The workers at the Goderich mine have been off the job since April 27.
Unifor Local 16-O represents the workers, and alleges Compass Minerals has been flying in replacement workers from New Brunswick to break the strike while demanding concessions that include mandatory overtime, reduced benefits and a weakening of contracting-out provisions.
In a letter to the community on June 28, Compass Minerals said it has used contractors to produce salt to fill long-term orders, and had little choice to do so in a competitive market.