SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – At a special meeting and rally today, United Steelworkers (USW) Quebec Director Alain Croteau pledged union-wide support for 371 workers on strike at the CEZinc. refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., co-owned by Noranda Income Fund and Glencore.
“Keep up the fight!” Croteau told the strikers, members of USW Local 6486, who are now into the fourth week of their labour dispute.
“You are absolutely right to fight to preserve the gains that were achieved through the struggles of workers who came before you. You are absolutely right to expect a decent retirement after a lifetime of working in harsh conditions, exposed to excessive heat and industrial contaminants. You are absolutely right to resist the demands of an employer that refuses to consider alternatives to unnecessary concessions.”
Croteau issued an appeal to all Steelworkers locals to financially support the striking workers. Several USW locals already have committed to ongoing donations throughout the strike, he noted.
“This strike, your fight, is an example for the labour movement. You are determined, organized and disciplined. I invite every local union to support you to help you keep up this fight. No one will bring you to your knees!”
The USW has called out the company for refusing to explore cost-cutting alternatives at the CEZinc. plant and accused the employer of provoking a labour dispute with demands such as major pension concessions, despite the fact the pension plan is over-funded, with a 114% funding ratio.
Picket line vigilance
The strikers, picketing day and night, have been noting the comings and goings of subcontractors’ trucks and other vehicles at the plant and raising questions about possible circumvention of Quebec’s anti-scab laws.
“We suspect the company is hiring people who aren’t allowed to work – strikebreakers. We’re gathering proof in order to bring the company before the courts. This is a serious strike and we’ll do what’s necessary to ensure that the law and the rules are respected,” said Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486.
“We will provide the legal resources and all other support needed to prevent the company from resorting to strikebreakers,” Croteau said. “Production at this plant will resume only when its workers have a good contract.”
Croteau invited Noranda Income Fund shareholders to start asking questions of company management.
“Why are they foot-dragging? Why are they refusing to consider solutions other than cutting the pension plan? Why are they not disclosing the terms of the concentrate supply contracts and the production purchase agreement between Noranda Income Fund and Glencore? There are a lot of grey areas in this file,” Croteau said.
For further information:
Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org