Canada : Vale denies pickets and threatens to use yellow in the strike nickel

International Federation of Chemical Workers' Unions, Energy, Mining and General Workers

Pressed on all sides to resume negotiations in the dispute between the past six months the United Steelworkers (ETC) nickel mines in Canada, the direction of the Brazilian company Vale is now before the courts and deal with the public in a bitter conflict between the Canadian working class and a rich and profitable multinational.

As if the war of words over who must bend to resume trading no longer enough, both sides are now fighting a real battle to amend a Memorandum of Understanding on picketing and stop unfair labor practices before the Ontario Labor Relations Board. In this last case, it is an attempt to Vale to assign members of the USW strikers not to hit by the strike activities.

The Canadian Vale management seeks to “divide and rule” on steelworkers USW, but to believe in the public that its proposals for social rebates to locals USW are necessary for the survival of the Canada Mining.

3.250 miners and steelworkers went on strike in extraction sites, smelting and processing of Vale nickel in Sudbury and Port Colborne, in Ontario, the 13 July 2009 before being joined, August 1 by 350 copper miners and nickel from Goose Bay Voiseys Bay, in the Labrador province. Vale, which bought the Canadian Inco end 2006, would remove a production bonus to Canadian metallurgists, impose a two-tier pension plan and change the text of the agreements for greater use of outsourcing, what, and final, a threat to job security and the professional future of workers.

For ten weeks, Vale threatens to restart production in northern Ontario, near Sudbury, a move that would be unprecedented in the region. Recently, management has made post notices saying it will reactivate the huge oven Copper Cliff with a contractor of his choice.

The union brought an action for unfair labor practice before the Ontario Labor Relations Board because Vale wants to assign members of the local 2020 USW - employees, administrative and technical - to extraction and processing activities. The section 2020 has itself filed a complaint against Vale dangerous activity that affects its members to tasks for which they are not trained.

A Memorandum of Understanding on picketing signed 29 July is the subject of controversy, mainly because Vale wants to amend the buses carrying replacement workers can also cross the picket. Now the courts, the dispute also addresses the question of how long the strikers Local 6500 USW can block vehicles to the company's gates, as well as minor points like the fact that Vale does not provide firewood to strikers, as yet provides severance agreement.

The Ontario Supreme Court should rule on these and what to do with the pickets before the end of December.

Vale also proposed to 200 members of the local 6200 de Port Colborne, at 400 kilometers south of Sudbury, to resume trading regardless of the section 6500, yet covered by the same collective agreement. This is an attempt proved to divide workers, according to the President of the section 6200, Wayne Rae, has no chance of success.

Ensuite, last week, Canadian Vale management tried to bypass the union by sending a letter directly to all strikers. She urges them to put pressure on the union to resume negotiations and accept applications Vale is ready to “get on activities”, that is to say boost production by hiring and employing subcontractors.

The USW has responded with a press release dated 11 December claiming he has already proposed in good faith in Vale to resume discussions without any prior. “We reiterate our position publicly because the letter of Vale trying to pretend that we do not want to resume constructive discussions”, reads it.

“We are ready and willing to resume discussion today, unconditionally. Given the impact that this conflict has on our workers, our families and our community, it is up to the union and management to waive any condition precedent and to talk.”

“Alas, Vale Inco maintains its preconditions and the argument that concessions are necessary to ensure its “sustainability”, while its commitment to remove the premium on nickel does not affect survival. Vale had to pay dearly to buy this profitable company against its competitors. Inco has made a profit every year with nickel prices lower than today. Vale has made enormous profits with the current agreement. No one can say that the rich Sudbury nickel mines are not sustainable.”

The sections of the USW Local de l'Ontario et du Labrador placent beaucoup d'Espoirs dans une proposition de loi à titre individuel déposée by the depute Claude Gravelle. His text would impose transparency to all transactions under the Investment Canada Act, This would be a great lesson in democracy for many Canadians, as talks between the federal government and Vale were kept secret when it bought Inco.

Claude Gravelle also tabled two bills calling for the opening of Inco takeovers records by Vale and Falconbridge by Xstrata, a trade in interesting deposits of copper and nickel in northern Ontario.

At Local 6500 Sudbury, the 3.100 members remain united and display their unit, their fellowship and a strong sense of community, convinced that resistance Vale is the guarantee of a sustainable future.

Of 10 the 15 December, the section 6500 conducted an Action Week with many activities in Sudbury. for example, the 10 December, Human Rights Day, a candlelight vigil and a parade held in conjunction with the Sudbury District Council of Labor Congress of Canada. The next day, 11 December, students and the faculty association at Laurentian University, Close, have “relocated classes to picket” the Copper Cliff smelter where courses were given to study the causes and effects of the strike.

A fundraiser “Families for strikers” took place the weekend of 12-13 December while a caravan “Support and solidarity with the steelworkers” part of Toronto also arrived to picket the 13 December. Today, 14 December, old union and retirees will organize a symposium on “Lessons from the past - What we have achieved” by recalling strike 1978 and with a reflection on the need to preserve the acquis.

And tomorrow, 15 December, Members Section 6500 and their families organize a march “Fairness for our families” and a demonstration outside Vale Inco's office in Copper Cliff.

The 3 December, in another outpouring of support for Canadian miners on strike, dozens of members of the American union Unite-Here is joined members of Locals 6500 and 6200 who traveled by bus to New York to protest against the awarding of a prize of the Business Council for International Understanding the CEO of Vale, Roger Agnelli.

This action of Unite-Here, who recently joined the ranks of the AFL-CIO, is symbolic of the American labor movement unity revival, a solidarity that is now spreading in Canada.

The ICEM has been joined by the International Metalworkers' Federation (FIOM) in the establishment of a global campaign to support Canadian miners. Website (in English) strikers provides all the details on this strike. His address is www.fairdealnow.ca.

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