Sunday, August 02, 2009

As mentioned before on this blog members of the United Steel Workers Canada were in a legal strike position as of yesterday, August 1. As of that they they are indeed on strike. Here's the story from the Sudbury Star via the strike support site Fair Deal Now. The Fair Deal site also reports increasing solidarity coming from Brazilian employees of Vale Inco.

Vale Inco workers in Voisey's Bay on strike:

Ron Thomson
For The Sudbury Star
Strikes here in Greater Sudbury and one in Voisey's Bay are attempt by Vale Inco to "squeeze the blood out of our members," a top Steelworkers official charged Friday.

"We're appreciative of our brothers and sisters in Voisey's Bay joining us on the picket line," said Wayne Fraser, director of United Steelworkers District 6. "We'll be bargaining together for a successful conclusion."

More than 3,000 Steelworkers in Greater Sudbury and Port Colborne have been on strike since July 13. Another 450 Steelworkers in Newfoundland and Labrador hit the picket lines Saturday, after voting 99% in favour of striking.

Negotiations between Vale Inco and the union in Voisey's Bay broke off in June. There has been no collective agreement in place since March.

Pensions, benefits and bonuses are issues both here and in Voisey's Bay.

Vale Inco has said little about the pending strike. "No bargaining meetings are scheduled" with Voisey's Bay workers, Cory McPhee, a Vale spokesman in Toronto, told in an e-mailed response to questions.

Fraser said Vale Inco has been "ruthless" prosecuting the strike in Greater Sudbury and Port Coloborne, and expects the same for workers in Voisey's Bay.

For example, Fraser said Vale Inco has been telling injured workers in Greater Sudbury they must cross the picket line or be cut off from disability benefits. (Tell me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this seem extraordinarily low handed on the part of the company. I wonder how they coukld get away with even making the suggestion.-Molly )

"This is how ruthless they are, this is how uncaring they are," he said. "On Tuesday, we're thinking we're going to proceed with a complaint to human rights on behalf of those 200 people. We think it's discrimination at its worst ...

"It's an indication of the things this company is doing, it's an indication of who these new owners are," he said.

With nickel prices at more than $7 a pound right now and expected to climb to $11 or $12 next year, Vale doesn't need the concessions it wants from its workers, Fraser said.

"Those were predictions made by Vale at the bargaining table," he said. "This isn't about sustainability; this is about squeezing the blood out of our members."
Read more in Monday's Star

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