Salt Workers Across Canada Learning Together

Salt Workers Across Canada Learning Together

Windsor Salt Operation on the Magdalen Islands, Quebec

Opération Mines Seleine on Grosse-Île in the Magdalen Islands, Quebec

Workers from another Windsor Salt mine owned by Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc. have informed Empower Yourself Now about their concerns with this union-busting company. Opération Mines Seleine on Grosse-Île in the Magdalen Islands, Quebec, are rock salt mines with seven salt domes, a type of structural dome formed when salt (or other evaporite minerals) intrudes into overlying rocks in a process known as diapirism. Salt domes are important in petroleum geology as they can function as petroleum traps for both oil and natural gas, which is one of the reasons that many salt deposits have been discovered while surveying for oil.

The Mines Seleine opened in 1982 and was sold to Windsor Salt in 1988. It produces road salt to be used in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In 2009, it was taken over by K+S, a German company that bought Windsor Salt. K+S was later bought by Stone Canyon in its bid to become the largest salt producer in North America. Workers in Pugwash, Nova Scotia reported that salt from the Mines Seleine was brought in during their strike, the first with Stone Canyon and its union-busting law firm in Canada, to force the salt workers in Pugwash to accept a concessionary contract.

Mines Seleine produces more than 1,300,000 metric tonnes of rock salt each year. It is currently expected that activities at the mine will be able to continue for another 30 years. Around 145 people work at Mines Seleine, most of them residents of the Magdalen Islands. After 30 years of activity, Mines Seleine now has a second generation of Magdalen Islanders working as miners.

The workers point out that they can barely meet their production targets now, meaning that there is no way they can be pushed into doing more overtime to meet the quotas that Windsor’s Ojibway rock salt mine produces while the workers there are on strike. The contract of the Mines Seleine workers expires in October 2024, so they are following closely what takes place in Windsor to see how they can be effective.

Pugwash Salt Workers Facing Layoffs Together

Pugwash salt workers express support for Windsor salt workers, March 25, 2023

Salt workers in Pugwash Nova Scotia are facing layoffs from Windsor Salt. They inform that four workers will be laid off and that like the salt workers in Mines Seleine Quebec they are not in a position to run overtime to produce rock salt to make up for Windsor’s Ojibway rock salt mine shutdown as a result of the company’s demands for contracting out which provoked the strike. They also report that workers are finding ways to support one another in the face of the situation with older workers stepping forward to take “voluntary” layoff in order for younger workers to keep working. This shows that in the face of the difficulties they experience dealing with Windsor Salt, they are finding ways to stick together and solve problems in a manner that favours building their unity.