·  Media release

Steelworkers Seeking Commitment to Workers at Mount Polley

BURNABY, B.C. - The union representing workers at Mount Polley mine is welcoming the establishment of an independent investigation and inquiry into the failure of the mine's tailings pond.

United Steelworkers District 3 Director Stephen Hunt says that the inquiry is an important step to ensuring public confidence in mining, including the mines and communities where Steelworkers across the province work and live.

"Our union was immediately on the ground, responding and supporting all of those who have been affected by the tailings pond failure.  Mount Polley is not only where our members work, but the surrounding area is where our members live and raise their families," says Hunt.  "We remain concerned about the failure's impact on workers, local communities, First Nations and the environment."

Hunt says the union wrote to Mr. Al Hoffman, Chief Inspector of Mines, on August 5, 2014 requesting that the Steelworkers be granted full standing and inclusion in any investigation as to what occurred.  The union has not received any response.

"It's disappointing that prior to announcement of this independent investigation and inquiry, our efforts to be included as workers on the frontline have been ignored.  The livelihood of hundreds of families in the Cariboo region are at stake, and they deserve a voice in what comes next," Hunt says.

Hunt noted concerns from members and the surrounding community about impacts from job losses and the union is working to ensure laid-off members are employed in any cleanup, reclamation or rehabilitation work.

"Steelworkers have been long concerned about the combination of both regulation of the mining industry and promotion of the industry under one roof in the Ministry of Energy and Mines," says Hunt. He called on the government and all stakeholders to review the current regime and place worker health and safety and environmental regulation under the purview of WCB and the Ministry of Environment respectively.

Later today, August 18, 2014, Hunt will meet with B.C. Minister of Mines Bill Bennett to discuss the union's concerns.

The United Steelworkers represents over 6,200 miners in British Columbia.

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For further information:

Stephen Hunt, Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174

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