Sunday, August 09, 2009

While steelworkers in Thompson Manitoba are bound by a contract with Vale Inco until September 2011 this doesn't mean that they don't support their fellow workers in Ontario and Newfoundland. Here's a story from the Sudbury Star about the support rallies in Sudbury and Port Colborne where visiting members from Thompson showed their support last Friday. Stay tuned to the Fair Deal Now strike support site for further news about this strike.
Thompson Steel supports locals:
A low-key rally on the Copper Cliff picket line drew about 60 to 70 strikers Friday.

Murray Nychyporuk, president of the United Steelworkers Local 6166, presented the workers with a banner signed by members of his local from Thompson, Man., as well as a cheque for $15,000.

"The members appreciate you guys taking on this fight," he said "We all want to see you be successful."

Labour Day in Thompson will be focused on the Steelworkers' battle in Ontario, added Nychyporuk.

"It makes for a tough household when the breadwinner's out of work and there is no money coming in. It creates tension. What Vale's doing is attacking middle class Canada in trying to get these concessions," he said.

"It's not a pretty thing."

The Manitoba workers are on shutdown. No strike looms in their immediate future as their contract is not up until September 2011. However, Nychyporuk and another activist from Thompson lent their support to the Steelworkers fight, spending the week in Ontario -- first in Port Colborne picket line and then Sudbury.

The Port Colborne rally on Tuesday drew almost all its 130 members, said local Steelworkers president John Fera.

"Voisey's Bay, Port Colborne and Sudbury went out together, and we're going back together," he said to applause from the line.

In an interview after the rally, Fera talked about the importance of sticking together.

"It's great for our members and the members of the Port and the members in Voisey's Bay to know that nobody's fighting alone. We're not doing this in isolation," he said.

"We're doing this together. For a cause we know is right against a company we know is wrong."

Fera didn't have many details about the rumours that Vale had declared or was close to declaring force majeure. Force majeure is a legal procedure used to excuse the company from its contractual obligations to deliver product due to labour disruptions.

The website MetalBulletin.comis
reporting a declaration of force majeure was made Friday.

"This company is so narrow sighted that they're already running out of stock?" Fera asked.

While the declaration of force majeure wasn't unexpected, the timing of it is, he said.

"We knew at some point they would be running out of stock. But not this early," he said.

"That surprises me a little bit. Disappoints me a little bit."

Fera also spoke at the rally about the new protocol established last week between the Steelworkers Local 6500 and Vale Inco.

"As you were probably aware, Inco tried to sue us for $25 million again. So we went to court last Wednesday," he said. "We were able to successfully mediate a protocol that we are practicing today. We think we did OK."

The protocol gives the Steelworkers the right to delay vehicles 12 to 15 minutes. Vale will now supply the picket lines with water, power, telephone communications and wood.

"Power is one of the things they threatened to cut off just a couple of weeks ago," Fera said.

Pat and Darlene Lacelle were among the members at the rally.

"I think it's my sixth or seventh strike. I started in 1975," he said. (This says something about those who imagine that the old Inco was any better than the present owners-Molly )

"I find this time here it's a little worse. The company's more difficult to deal with. At least with the other company, we had a little bit of respect for each other. But with these guys I don't have any respect for them." (Ah- the rosy glow of memory-Molly )

Lacelle believes that the length of the strike hinges on the market.

"I looked this morning and saw nickel was $8.91. They're losing money. It's costing money for them to be idle," he said.

He was pleased at the contribution made by the Thompson workers.

"Good support from a small local like that. I think it's good. This is a fight for every worker," he said.

A year away from pension, Lacelle voted down the contract because of his son who also works for Vale.

"This is going to be our last fight," said Darlene Lacelle.

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