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CEZinc’s Concession Demands Provoke Strike at Quebec Refinery

MONTREAL – Employees of the CEZinc. refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., co-owned by Noranda Income Fund and Glencore, began a strike Sunday in response to the company’s demands for major concessions.

The 371 members of United Steelworkers Local 6486 say the strike was provoked by company demands such as major pension concessions, despite the fact their pension plan is over-funded, with a 114% funding ratio. The company also has steadfastly refused to explore cost-cutting alternatives in the plant’s operation, the union says.

“This employer, Noranda Income Fund, has deliberately pushed us toward a labour dispute,” said Steelworkers staff representative Luc Julien.

“They demand major concessions in the pension plan without being able to demonstrate any serious problems in the plant. And when we propose working together to find operational savings and efficiencies, they don’t even want to hear about it,” Julien said.

“We’ve been more than reasonable throughout the negotiations, but the employer isn’t interested in our proposals. They want a blank cheque for concessions,” said Steelworkers Local 6486 President Manon Castonguay.

“On one hand Noranda Income Fund is making demands for serious concessions and on the other hand it refuses to put its cards on the table regarding the contracts it has negotiated with Glencore,” Castonguay said.

“Our plant is competitive, it has highly qualified workers and we’ve set new production records. We’re not going to accept concessions just to please a greedy employer.”

Noranda Income Fund has failed to demonstrate any financial troubles and it has refused to divulge the terms of its zinc concentrate supply contract with Glencore and the production contract it also has with Glencore, the union says.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

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For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers Communications, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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