Unionized employees walked off the job at Hudbay's Lalor mine March 24 after concerns with Hudbay's response to COVID-19 and the arrival of a new set of workers from outside the community at the mine.
A statement posted on Hudbay bulletin boards March 23, later circulated online by the Town of Snow Lake, stated the local town council had issued requests to the company due to concerns about COVID-19. One of the most prominent requests involved suspending air travel for workers and service providers at Hudbay's operations in Snow Lake, affective throughout April.
A separate statement made to The Reminder by Hudbay March 25 said the company had approved the request and sent out an update to employees and on-site contractors Tuesday.
Despite that, a plane of workers with an outside contractor arrived in Snow Lake later March 23, sparking the walkout.
"We have roughly 35 unionized workers at Lalor underground operations that filled out a right to refuse this morning," said United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7106 president Tom Davie. Most, if not all, unionized workers at Lalor mine were part of the walkout, along with a number of employees at the 777 mine site.
"They filled out a right to refuse because they don't believe Hudbay is going far enough to protect them during the corona scare, that they aren't going far enough to protect the safety of the workers."
The Hudbay statement to The Reminder stated all people transported into the community were pre-screened by their employer before travelling and screened again once in Snow Lake. Manitoba's provincial government declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 March 20. Provincial health officials have warned against any non-essential travel, including interprovincial or international travel.
"Effective immediately, public health officials are recommending that anyone who returns from travel, either international or domestic, should self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days following their return," reads a COVID-19 update from the Manitoba government March 24.
The additional workers affiliated with the contractor left the community later March 24, ending the walkout. Unionized workers were back on the job March 25.
"Out of concern for employee safety, Hudbay has advanced the no-fly restriction to March 23rd and has sent home the employees who just arrived," reads the company's statement to The Reminder.
"Hudbay continues to work with the community and our employees and established additional measures to ensure our mine and mill in Snow Lake are able to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic."