A union representing workers at Mosaic’s (NYSE: MOS) potash mine in Esterhazy, Sask. says it has filed for provincial mediation after negotiations for higher wages broke down.
Some 750 workers at the site about 230 km east of Regina have been without a contract since Feb. 1, Dan Bailey, union representative with Unifor Local 892, said by phone from Regina.
“Cost of living is a concern,” Bailey said. “The employer is certainly in a situation, if you just review recent quarterly reports, that they should be able to work with its employees and assist in dealing with the increases to the cost of living.”
The Tampa, Fla.-based company this month reported third quarter net income of US$842 million and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of US$1.7 billion. Mosaic said it spent US$1.6 billion so far this year buying back its shares.
William Barksdale, a spokesperson for Mosaic based in the United States, said by email his Canadian counterparts were preparing comments about the negotiations while also handling corporate events with the CFL Grey Cup this weekend at New Mosaic stadium in Regina.
Bailey declined to provide details on the wage increases Unifor is seeking or how much Mosaic has offered.
“I don’t think we’re far apart,” he said. “We are certainly looking forward to meeting with the mediator and getting a deal done.”
Mosaic’s Esterhazy K3 mine produces about 50,000 tonnes of potash ore per day, according to the company. The two-head frame operation mines potash at levels deeper than 1,000 metres. The K1 and K2 mines ceased output last year. More than 1,200 people work at the Esterhazy site, the company says.
“Canadian potash producers are facing significant cost increases due to cumulative regulatory decisions and market burdens,” Mosaic says on its website.
High inflation is also affecting farmers, who have cut back the amount of potash they’re buying because of high prices. That caused some potash company stocks such as Mosaic, Intrepid Potash (NYSE: IP) and Nutrien (NYSE: NTR) to fall earlier this month.
Still, potash miners are benefiting after sanctions sidelined production from Russia and Belarus, the number two and three global suppliers after Canada.