SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – The Quebec government must disclose the conditions imposed on Noranda Income Fund in return for significant rebates on electricity rates – conditions the company now says it doubts it will fulfill, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.
The USW also is asking the Quebec government to hold off on any electricity rebates for NIF’s CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield until a labour dispute at the plant has been resolved.
After NIF’s disclosure of its 2016 annual and fourth-quarter results, it was discovered yesterday that the government approved electricity rebates for the CEZinc refinery, where some 371 Steelworkers members have been on strike since Feb. 12.
In the wake of the company’s cryptic news release yesterday, there are crucial questions to be answered by the company and the government, the USW says.
Under what conditions were these electricity rebates granted? Is Quebec making any actual demands with respect to investments and the creation and maintenance of jobs?
“We demand more transparency,” said Steelworkers staff representative Luc Julien.
“It’s important for the government to show it is equally as demanding when it comes to creating and maintaining good jobs for Quebec workers, as it is generous when it comes to corporate rebates for our publicly owned resources.”
When NIF announced its 2016 annual and fourth quarter results, the company deferred the disclosure of its production targets for 2017, citing the CEZinc labour dispute as the reason.
Greater transparency is also what the 371 striking workers are demanding from NIF. The company is refusing to disclose the terms of the zinc concentrate supply contract it has with Glencore and the terms of the zinc production purchase agreement it also has with Glencore.
The company continues to demand pension concessions from the striking workers, while refusing to discuss alternative ways to achieve its cost-cutting objectives.
“The workers on the picket line are very committed to fighting these concessions as long as we have to. We hope that the company understands this and that it will agree to open its books to discuss solutions that are both realistic and respectful of its employees,” Julien said.
“These workers do difficult jobs, often in a harsh and challenging environment. It’s reasonable for them to expect good working conditions and a decent retirement. After devoting their working lives to this company, our members should be able to enjoy a secure retirement.”
For further information:
Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org