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Monday, August 28, 2006

INCO Employees Back Miners at Voisey's Bay

Hat’s off to the Steelworkers at Inco’s processing plants in Thompson, Manitoba and Sudbury, Ontario, who have publicly vowed to back mine workers at the Voisey’s Bay mine site by refusing to process any ore concentrate shipped from that location until the strike there is settled.

Just a few days ago, Ray Goldie a spokesman for Inco, said the company was not concerned about their bottom line and was in fact “cleaning up in the marketplace” because they had shipped enough nickel concentrate from the mine prior to the strike to supply their operations long enough to wait out the union. Well think again Ray. You may have plenty of ore but it isn’t going to do you much good if the fine folks working at your smelters refuse to process it.
Talks are currently at a stand still and it was looking more and more like Inco was willing to leave workers out in the cold and basically starve them into submission. It is hoped that this move by Steelworkers at the two primary smelters where Voisey’s bay ore is processed will bring an end to the standoff.

Currently workers at the mine are reported to be making as much as $30,000 less per year than their counterparts in other Inco operations in Canada and the benefit packages provided to workers at the Newfoundland and Labrador operation are sub standard. Adding to these insults is the fact that employees are expected to endure sort of treatment while having to put up with the obvious travel and employment dangers inherent in working at a remote location.

Once again, I’d like to offer a hearty thank-you to the fine folks at both the Thompson and Sudbury operations. Even though their employers may feel that the folks in Newfoundland and Labrador are nothing but second class citizens to be used as a cheap source of labor, apparently Inco’s workers do not and are telling the company exactly that. Good on you!

7 comments:

Brian said...

Lots of broad statements there, can you supply any links to back em up?
On the not processing any concentrate from VB, true, but what about the concentrate from other mines/counties, union spokesperson did not say anything about not processing that. With the price of nickel at record highs they can ship in from almost anywhere and still make a profit.
My info is that there is less than one shipment of nickel concentrate and about one and a half shipments of copper concentrate at VB. The copper can sit for a long time and won’t oxidize, not so with nickel, it is a problem for long storage. The fire just recently was in the nickel concentrate storage area. Will that help the strikers cause? I do not know.

On the monetary differential you give, I have not heard any figure that large. I have heard nineteen dollars an hour at VB and twenty four dollars an hour at other facilities. Given that the VB people only get paid for two weeks work out of every four it may add up, I will leave that to people with more knowledge of the facts. Lets not forget that the flights in to camp are free from Goose Bay and the north coast. All accommodations are free as well as meals. Would that be true for other facilities I’m wondering? I’m not on the company side, just trying to get the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Patriot said...

Brian,

Thanks for the inquiry.

The numbers (30,000 for example) came from a news article on the subject that can easily be found in a google news search. I don't know how accurate the number is and in the article say that, "...workers at the mine are REPORTED to be making as much as $30,000 less."

The comment on voisey bay concentrate came from a rep of INCO who said publicly that they had stockpiled enough concentrate to keep Manitoba and Ontario smelters supplied. This too can be found in a simple news search.

As for the cost of flying in, that is not what I was getting at when I spoke of remote locations. What I was getting at is the risk to the employees from a crash, emergency, etc. where it could take a long time for rescue teams to get to them.

Finally, as to cost of lodging and food, this is standard practice in remote locations. I have worked in this way myself and have yet to see an employer deduct pay from a person for such a service. In fact, most companies pay additional money to employees willing to work in remote or danerous locations. This is normally referred to as isolation or danger pay.

None of the statements in this piece are private knowledge and are readily available to anyone willing to scan a few news papers.

Brian said...

From local 9508 release to Brothers and Sisters.

Employer incentive plan: “Sudbury and Thompson receive between 7 & 8 dollars for every worked during the second quarter 2006 in addition to their regular hourly rate”.
It does not say what VB workers were offered or get, just that it is “substandard to ours” paraphrased. In addition “VB bonus is capped at 25% of our quarterly wages. No one else within INCO has a cap”.
“We are presently at 3 to 6 dollars an hour less than other mines”.
“Our pension Plan is approximately 50% the value of other INCO mines, our flex benefits plan is approximately 1/3 the value of our counterparts in Sudbury and Thompson”.
“Sudbury signed a new contract with INCO in May and offered substantial bonus. We were offered ¼ of that amount.”
“No overtime premium offered to VB workers, no night shift, Saturday, Sunday premium offered”. Paraphrasing again.

http://pic2.piczo.com/KimandJen/?g=19870871&cr=2 has some info on what is going on with picketers and will update the negotiations it claims.

So all in all the brothers and sisters are getting the royal shaft by look of it and the 30,000 quoted may be on the low side.

Brian said...

Word is that an ore ship will enter Anaktalok Bay today to load concentrate. Strikers are attempting to organize a flotilla to stop this happening.
Perhaps Chairman Dan, who is on an anti corporate rant, could help his brothers and sisters in Labrador out by sending up the Newfoundland navy in solidarity, after all it is an“ integral part of the Province”.

Brian said...

The mv Arctic is/was out side Paul’s Island this morning. Couple of speed boats with strikers went out, plus three cops in the fisheries boat. The Arctic turned around, not sure if it is lying off or what.

The mv Astron is on the way to Nain, it supposedly has some heavy equipment on board for Voisey’s Bay. There is a tug and barge hanging around Nain, supposedly to off load the equipment from the Astron to take to VB.
Lot of information not gelled yet, but the lads are on edge for sure.

Anoymous said...

Oh, I wonder is this the reason Inco sent up a smoke screen by Mr. Goldie last week in a CBC Radio Report on Busines by saying that it/INCO was well secured with sufficient nickel ore to keep its smelters going in Sudbury, Ontario and Thompson, Manitoba for at least a year and a half, because it had a supply that was being sent from Australia.

I am glad the people from Voisey's Bay are on the lookout. Great job you are doing folks.

Brian said...

Update on strike at Voisey's bay can be seen here http://torngats.blogspot.com/