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HALIFAX - Cape Breton miners and their families have little to celebrate this holiday season after a fruitless meeting with Bernard Boudreau, Liberal Senate leader and Devco chair Joe Shannon, resulted in little more than empty promises.

This meeting was a complete waste of time, says Angus McEachern, president, local 2046 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Boudreau is the federal cabinet minister responsible for Nova Scotia, but he refused to address our concerns. All he offered was to raise our issues with cabinet in mid-January.

The results of this meeting were completely unacceptable, says Stephen Drake, president of the United Mine Workers (UMW), district 26. The federal government has set the precedent. When they got out of the railway business, when they got out of the air traffic control business, they agreed to formal committees that negotiated fair compensation packages. Why is it different now that they want to get out of the mining business? 000d000a

Since natural resources minister Ralph Goodale announced the federal government’s intention to shut down the publicly owned mines in 2000, all four Devco unions including CUPE, the UMW, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) have worked in close collaboration for decent separation and early retirement packages.

It has been almost a year since the minister’s announcement. Yet miners were forced to occupy Devco’s offices last week to get a meeting with the Liberal Senate leader.

It’s about time Goodale came to Cape Breton and offered something that both Devco and the miners could live with, Drake says.

Having hundreds of miners left in the dark about their future is appalling, says McEachern. Devco’s board of directors, the federal government and the affected unions have got to get together to hammer out a package that’s fair for everyone.

You can reach Angus McEachern, Stephen Drake, Angus Grant or Rick Wiseman today at the Delta Halifax at (902) 429-7410

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