Mining company Vale says repairs at its Coleman Mine are expected to take longer than originally anticipated.

Last week, the company announced it was suspending work at the mine, due to critical repair work at the shaft's ventilation compartment. The company originally said those repairs were expected to continue into this week.

On Tuesday, the company said the repair work won't be done until into December.

"As a result, Coleman is now on short-term shutdown and our employees at Coleman will be temporarily laid off for the period of the repair," Amanda Brosseau with Vale said to CBC News in a statement.

"We know this is disruptive to our people at Coleman and their families. However, safety is at the core of this decision."

Last week, Vale confirmed under the terms of the collective agreement with the workers, employees do not get paid when work is not available. 

Workers 'paying the price'

Rick Bertrand, the president of USW Local 6500, says more than 400 workers that will be affected.

"Today we received a call saying that our members will be getting laid off," he said. "Obviously, we're not very happy about that."

Bertrand says he's surprised the repairs will take as much time as they will to complete.

"When the shaft is in that bad of repair that we have to send our members home and lay them off, that's not a good thing," he said.

"They should be getting paid because it is out of their control. The work in the shaft should have been done a long time ago. Due to negligence of the shaft being let go, now our members are paying the price."  

He says when the company was owned by Inco, regular shutdowns were scheduled for maintenance.

"In the last few years, there's been a lot of mining going on without shutting down," he said.

"Due to that, our mines are not in the best shape. There's a lot of work that needs to be done. Due to that, now our members are paying the price."

Bertrand says the union feels the company is violating the collective agreement, and says workers should have been able to bump into other positions during the shutdown.