Workers ‘blindsided’ by layoffs at Mosaic’s Colonsay potash mine – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – July 13, 2016)

Workers at Mosaic Co.’s Colonsay potash mine were “totally blindsided” as they arrived for a shift change and were escorted to boardrooms by private security to be told they were out of a job, a staff representative says.

About 330 workers at the mine 60 kilometres east of Saskatoon received layoff notices on Wednesday. They’ve been told they’re out of a job until Jan. 3, said Mike Pulak, staff representative for United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7656.

“One of our members asked a question, what was the reason, and the reason given was that they have no sales, no international sales, which in our opinion is false,” Pulak said. “Mosaic is part of the Canpotex (international marketing) group with Agrium and (Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan), and if there was no sales, that would mean everybody would be shut down.”

Mosaic, which operates three mines in Saskatchewan, decided to “idle” its Colonsay operation and rely instead on its Esterhazy and Belle Plaine mines amid “really challenging” market conditions, a spokeswoman for the company said.

“Colonsay is our highest-cost mine, and that’s why the decision was made,” Sarah Fedorchuk said, adding that while the mine is comparatively expensive to operate, the company has no plans to shutter it permanently.

“Lower global potash demand and market prices require that we curtail production. Idling Colonsay will enable us to meet our customers’ needs while reducing our production costs,” Joc O’Rourke, Mosaic’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

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