Quebec workers give 72-hour strike notice, barring negotiated settlement
SEPT-ÎLES, Quebec – Corporate demands for pension concessions have been overwhelmingly rejected by 2,000 workers at ArcelorMittal’s iron ore operations in Fermont and Port-Cartier, Que., who also voted today to strike if a fair collective agreement is not reached within 72 hours.
Members of the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) denounced the company’s demand to impose a two-tier pension system that would adversely affect new workers.
“The mandate is clear, there is no question of abandoning our young people. The pension plan must be maintained for all workers,” said Nicolas Lapierre, the Steelworkers’ area coordinator for Quebec’s North Shore region.
“If the employer insists on these concessions, the ore will be staying in the ground as long as it takes to ensure fair and equal working conditions for everyone – current and future workers. Past generations fought for this pension plan and our current members are committed to ensuring it is passed on to the next generation,” Lapierre said.
Other outstanding issues include union demands that contracted-out positions be returned as unionized jobs and the resolution of discrepancies in working conditions and standards between workers at ArcelorMittal’s Mont Wright mine and its Fire Lake mine.
“The clock is ticking. The issues can be resolved if the employer has the will to do so. The employer should not doubt the resolve of these 2,000 members. If they are forced into a labour dispute, they won’t hesitate,” Lapierre said.
Following are results of the secret-ballot votes by each of the USW bargaining units at the ArcelorMittal operations, to reject the employer’s contract offer and to authorize strike action:
Local 5778 (mining): 99.8%
Local 7401 and 7401-FP (office and technical employees, Fermont): 100%
Local 7401 and 7401-FP (office and technical employees, Port-Cartier): 100%
Local 8664 (pellet plant, Port-Cartier): 99%
Local 6869 (rail, port and cargo handling): 99.3%
The Syndicat des Métallos/USW is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.
For further information:
Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/USW Communications, 514-774-4001, email@example.com
Syndicat des Métallos/USW office in Sept-Îles, Que.: 418-962-2041