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IAM launches strike at Hudbay

IAM Local 1848 members launched the first Flin Flon-Snow Lake mine strike in more than four decades Saturday, with picketers demanding a better offer from Hudbay and the company vowing to continue operations.

IAM Local 1848 members launched the first Flin Flon-Snow Lake mine strike in more than four decades Saturday, with picketers demanding a better offer from Hudbay and the company vowing to continue operations.

Dozens of picketers, including IAM members and their spouses, children and grandchildren, formed a picket line near the Hudbay main gate and other locations in Flin Flon and Snow Lake.

“I’d like to declare IAM 1848 on legal strike,” IAM president Rene Beauchamp announced near the main gate at noon.

Following a round of applause from onlookers, Beauchamp and the other picketers formed a picket line. Nearby, supporters enjoyed free hot dogs at an IAM-sponsored barbecue.

Shortly after the strike began came a tense moment when a Hudbay security worker briefly entered the crowd to present information to Beauchamp. A union supporter recorded the encounter with his cell phone camera.

Beauchamp told The Reminder that IAM would have picket lines near the main gate, at the 777 mine turnoff and at the concentrator in Snow Lake. The union is taking a day-to-day approach toward picketing at Reed mine.

“We’re going to take on the corporate bullies and we will not back down,” Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp said IAM assumes there are “scabs” in Snow Lake, as the union encountered security vehicles and a bus carrying an unknown number of people to the community.

He said there are also a lot more people believed to be under contract to Hudbay now in Flin Flon.

Sometime late Friday night or Saturday morning, Hudbay set up concrete barricades around its Flin Flon operations to ensure only authorized personnel can enter.

Hudbay has strongly defended its final offer to IAM as fair to workers and necessary to ensure the viability of the company’s Manitoba division.

IAM represents nearly 200 tradespeople, mainly mechanics, machinists and pipefitters. None of the company's other unions have held a strike vote. Hudbay's total Flin Flon-Snow Lake workforce consists of nearly 1,500 people.

The Reminder will have more on this story online and in print.

(Note: Readers can scroll through the photos above).