Striking workers at Goderich salt mine remove blockade

Faced with a court order, striking workers at the salt mine in Goderich, Ont., say they've taken down the wooden pallet blockade that was intended to block replacement workers from entering the mine.

The blockade was intended to prevent replacement workers from entering the mine

Workers on strike outside the salt mine in Goderich Thursday. Workers have been on strike since April 27, but the mine has continued to operate using replacement workers. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Faced with a court order, striking workers at the salt mine in Goderich, Ont., say they've taken down the wooden pallet blockade that was intended to block replacement workers from entering the mine.

But, union representative Scott Doherty says they still don't plan to let replacement workers in.

 "We have a picket line in place and we have no intention of allowing any vehicles carrying replacement workers into the site," he said. 

Joining the striking workers in that aim are about 15 tractors that drove up onto the roadway shortly after the blockades were removed, according to Unifor Local 16-0 president Gary Lynch.

Gary Lynch, president of Unifor Local 16-0, maintains money is not the central issue in this strike. He says the company wants employees to work 12 hour shifts. (Paula Duhatschek/ CBC News)

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court issued an order requiring the striking workers to remove their blockade by 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according to a post on Compass Minerals' bargaining website.

Compass Minerals, the company that operates the mine, says the blockade was jeopardizing the safety of workers, contractors and customers.

Lynch says he went home after removing the blockade to have a nap, and that by the time he got back, the tractors had arrived.

Lynch says he doesn't know who the tractors belong to.

"I don't know where they came from. It was bizarre," he said. 

What appears to be a tractor with no license plate is shown driving up the roadway to the mine in a video posted by Unifor Canada Saturday. 

About 350 mine workers represented by Unifor Local 16-0 have been on strike since April 27. The mine, one of the largest in the world, has remained open through the use of replacement workers. 

Following a July 4 phone call between Unifor and Compass Minerals, Doherty said the two sides may return to negotiations this week.

Compass Minerals did not respond to a request for further comment Sunday.