Recent History – 1998
By Alethea Wiesner,Daily News Staff,Nov. 9, 1998
A temporary production shortfall at the Quintette coal mine is good news for 31 workers who have been recalled to work.
The good news will be short-lived, however. Although the workers have been permanently recalled as according to the terms of the union contract, they will be laid off once again at the end of the coal year, March 31, 1999.
“We have some shortfalls in our coal contracts that we want to be sure we can fulfill before the end of the coal year, and we require some extra resources to do that”, said Russ Hallbauer, general manager of coal operations for Teck Corporation, holding company of the Quintette mine.
He estimates coal production would have been shy about 300,000 tons, one-tenth of the three million ton contract Quintette now holds with Japanese investors. The five-year contract, which took effect this April, meant a 30 per cent reduction in the mine’s output from 4.34 million tons.
That in turn meant a 30 per cent lay-off. This April 276 employees were laid off from the mine, a devastating blow to the community of Tumbler Ridge, whose population has since dropped by approximately a thousand.
Ironically enough, the Quintette mine ran an ad in last Saturday’ Edmonton Journal seeking heavy-duty mechanics. They would have just recalled previous employees, said mine manager Rob Scott, except all the heavy-duty mechanics who were laid off did so voluntarily and took a severance package.
“These people had it in their minds they were leaving anyway”, he explained. “At the end of the day they volunteered to be laid off.”
Scott added that no more layoffs are anticipated and that the current production shortfall is only because a new pit has been opened. Once the dust settles, so to speak, operations should run smoothly and the 31 workers will be laid off again.