Glacially-paced contract re-negotiation talks between the owner of the N.W.T.'s Ekati diamond mine and the Union of Northern Workers won't resume until at least the end of January — almost a year and a half since the contract expired.
Dominion Diamond Corporation and Local 3050 of the UNW have been negotiating a new collective agreement since August 2014. The local represents nearly 500 employees at the Ekati mine.
Talks broke off this past summer after Dominion stopped paying to fly southern Ekati workers from Edmonton to Yellowknife. Then Dominion filed a "failure to bargain" complaint against the UNW with the Canada Industrial Relations Board.
In its latest update to members, Local 3050 says the Public Service Alliance of Canada — the UNW's parent group — has responded with an "unfair labour practice" complaint against Dominion.
The board will now hold a three-day public hearing on both complaints in Vancouver on Jan. 26, 27 and 28.
Justine Abel, a spokesperson for the board, says the hearing is taking place in Vancouver because that's where the board has the nearest (to Yellowknife) regional office with facilities for a hearing. Both Dominion and the union are based in Yellowknife.
"We were anticipating that the CIRB would rule decisions on these complaints based on the written submissions made by both parties, without the need for a hearing," Local 3050 wrote in its latest update.
"Dominion Diamond Corporation respects the decision of the board to hold a hearing," says Brendan Bell, Dominion's CEO. "We will participate as required and look forward to a timely outcome."