ST. LAWRENCE, N.L.
Eighteen months after residents of the St. Lawrence area staged a demonstration at the Canada Fluorspar Inc (CFI) mine to lobby for local jobs, it appears there’s still some lingering frustration.
The issue came up for discussion at the town council meeting on Oct. 23.
St. Lawrence Mayor Paul Pike would like to meet with CFI officials to discuss concerns about hiring.
“I am still getting calls from citizens looking for work,” Pike explained during the Oct. 23 council meeting. “I was talking to a guy the other day who is a journeyman electrician who had gotten laid off, applied to go back and never even got an interview.”
The town met with company representatives last March after local citizens staged a protest about hiring. At the time a representative for CFI said hiring was mainly done locally with 53 per cent of workers coming from St. Lawrence and another 29 per cent from the Burin Peninsula.
The mayor says the company should do an assessment of who in the town is looking for work,” said Pike, adding, the town shouldn’t have to do that work. “If they want us to do it, we’ll do it.”
In a follow up interview with The Southern Gazette, Pike said the town would like to see about 50 to 60 per cent of workers come from St. Lawrence.
According to the mayor, “The manager (of the site) is saying somewhere between 31-33 per cent of the work force would be local hires from the town of St. Lawrence and Little St Lawrence.”
Pike said he is not opposed to seeing people from around the Burin Peninsula getting jobs in the mine, “but we also feel that there are more locals out there that need work and that they should be given priority.”
“From a business sense, we’ve seen one new business open and we saw one that left town,” Pike said in regards to Keyin College which set-up a location in the local parish hall to offer training related to the mine.
“We haven’t seen any real growth in the community when it comes to new business start-ups. There hasn’t been any increased revenues (for) local business owners due to it (the mine) either,” the mayor continued. “The people that are working here are not spending money here. A lot were geared up to handle the influx of people that were coming in, when in actual fact we’re seeing none of that.”
The Southern Gazette contacted the company’s media relations team again this month, seeking further information.
Company CEO Bill Dobbs was travelling and could not be reached for an interview.
Erin Curran, with m5 Marketing Communications, instead provided an e-mailed statement from Dobbs.
“As one of the largest employers in the area, CFI values its relationship with the town and residents of St. Lawrence along with the rest of the Burin Peninsula,” read the e-mail. “CFI has developed and strengthened relationships with businesses and stakeholders in the area and we feel proud to be part of a business community, which is working to strengthen the economic diversity of the region and province.”
The statement goes on to say that the company is proud to be operating on the Burin Peninsula, “…and wherever possible and when it makes good business sense, we use local suppliers and vendors to support mining operations and initiatives. We believe in investing in the area in which we operate for the betterment of the community and businesses alike.”
The Southern Gazette contacted the company’s media relations department for additional comment on the number of people working at the mine, as well as if they support local businesses, but no response was received by deadline.