Ask Albert Toney and Brian Toney and they’ll tell you what they are mining is White Gold! Albert and Brian are long-time employees at Georgia Pacific’s Melford gypsum mine near Waycobah and they love their jobs. “It’s like winning the lottery.” Brian explains, and this is the general reaction from people who land a job at this busy mine site. “It’s close to home, the pay is great, and the medical and dental benefits really make a difference.”
Brian Toney would know. He’s been an employee at Georgia Pacific for over eight years, and he has plenty of tips for First Nations people who are considering applying. “Enjoy your work, be responsible, get to work on time, and be here five days a week. There are not many jobs like this available in Cape Breton and this is closer to home than a job out west.”
With accolades like this, you’d imagine that there would be lineups of Mi’kmaq people for the available jobs. Georgia Pacific has, as its goal, a 25% First Nations workforce. However, in a crew of 130, there are just 11 Mi’kmaq workers. There seems to be a couple of stumbling blocks preventing more involvement. One of the chief reasons given is the expense of training as a heavy equipment operator. While courses are available at the Port Hawkesbury and Sydney Community Colleges, the cost is often not supported by the Bands. Kim Bolger, Georgia Pacific’s Human Resource Officer, explained that the main problem from the company’s perspective was actually getting applications in. She also felt that professional assistance with resumes would be a great help.
Among the union positions required at the mine are general labourers, heavy equipment operators, lab technicians, office staff, pumpmen, mechanics, shovel operators, and graders. Jobs are, of course, open to qualified men and women. Most positions require shift work as the mine runs 24 hours a day.
At the start of each shift, employees get training and upgrading on safety issues. This is one aspect of his employment that Brian Toney really appreciates. “Safety is a really big thing here. I practice safety every minute of the day. It’s something that I have taken home with me. Ask my family. I’m always double checking things around the house!”
If you are interested in working with Georgia Pacific, contact your band office for applications.