Sunday, December 27, 2009

While most of us are still enjoying our Christmas holidays the workers on strike against Vale Inco in Ontario and Newfoundland are still on the picket line in the bitter cold. Here's a story about 'Christmas On The Picket Line' from the Sudbury Star. To keep up to date with the latest news from the strike don't forget to visit the strike support site Fair Deal Now.
Christmas on the picket line:
As most Sudburians were waking up Christmas morning to spend the day with friends and family, there wasn't much cause for celebration on the Vale Inco picket line.

Christmas music played over a radio in the background as Yvon Laforest, Gord Bazinet and Jeff Whissell gathered around a fire on the picket line at the Copper Cliff smelter.

The members of Local 6500 volunteered to take a six-hour Christmas shift, starting at about 6:45 am.

"We left the people with younger kids at home so they could spend some time with their kids," said Laforest, who has worked for Vale Inco for four and a half years.

More than 3,000 of Vale Inco's production and maintenance workers have been on strike since July 13 and there appears to be no end in sight.

The union and the company have not gone back to the table since the strike began.

The major issues are concessions the company wants on pensions and a nickel bonus.

"It should have been settled a long time ago. That's what I think," said Laforest, who works in the divisional shop.

Aside from being away from family for six hours on Christmas day, the father of five said his Christmas would be all right.

"A lot of people are more unfortunate than me," he said.

Whissell, who has worked for Inco for nine years, said what he hates most about the strike is the fear of the unknown.

"You don't know what you are going to do," he said.

Whissell, who works in the acid plant, doesn't know if he should go back to school or leave the city he was born and raised in to find work elsewhere.

"I don't know what to do," he said.

The strike is not a positive experience, he said.

"I can't speak for everyone, but I'm assuming everybody is frustrated, some fearful. I'm sure some have lost quite a bit already," Whissell said.

Support from the community as well as the government would help, he said.

"Everybody stands to gain if we can get back to work," he said.

"I don't know what our government is doing" selling off our natural resources, Whissell added.

"I'd like to know what the game plan is in clear English."

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