Unionized Ekati Diamond Mine workers ratify 4-year collective agreement with BHP Billiton

    YELLOWKNIFE, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - Unionized workers at the Ekati Diamond Mine
have voted to ratify a new four-year collective agreement with majority owner
BHP Billiton, the Australian-based multinational resource corporation.
    And union leaders say the solidarity maintained by their 400 members
throughout a three-month long strike in 2006 strengthened negotiations for
this second contract. The new agreement was reached without another labour
    The four-year agreement bargained by the Public Service Alliance of
Canada and the Union of Northern Workers provides for pay increases tied to
the cost-of-living plus, a performance-based incentive program, improved job
security and a new Alternate Dispute Resolution process that addresses better
labour relations.
    "This agreement is a big step forward for our members who stuck together
in solidarity through and after a tough strike," said Jean-François Des
Lauriers, Regional Executive Vice-President - PSAC North.
    "This contract is a victory for our members who supported their union
through some very tough times over the past eight years," Des Lauriers said.
"Our members understand that a contract is a work in progress. The union will
work with its members to assist them in ensuring that all of the terms of the
new agreement are strictly followed."
    Todd Parsons, President of the Union of Northern Workers, one of PSAC's
components, said he hopes this new agreement is the next step to a better
working environment for members employed at BHP.
    "The union looks forward to improved labour relations at the mine through
the new Joint Union-Management Committee," Parsons said. "Our members have
shown that they support the new collective agreement, negotiated through the
hard work and dedication of their bargaining team."
    Parsons indicated that the ratification vote was counted December 14, at
the Ekati Mine in the Union's new on site office.

    Ekati is Canada's first diamond mine, producing 6 per cent of the world's
diamond supply by value or 4 per cent by weight and yields 3 to 5 million
carats annually. It is located 300 km northeast of Yellowknife and 200 km
south of the Arctic Circle.

For further information:

For further information: Jean-François Des Lauriers, Regional Executive
Vice President, PSAC North, (867) 669-0991, Website: www.psacnorth.com; or
Todd Parsons, Union of North Workers President, (867) 873-5668, Website:

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