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Glencore Smelter Lockout Culminates Years of Anti-Labour Hostility

BELLEDUNE, N.B. – Today’s early-morning lockout of Brunswick Smelter employees culminates years of anti-worker hostility from management of multinational giant Glencore, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“People have had to endure a culture of hostility from management for the last several years. They’re fed up with the harassment, the bullying and the intimidation. And they’re fed up with Glencore’s never-ending demands for concessions,” said Bart Dempsey, President of USW Local 7085, representing 280 Brunswick Smelter employees who were locked out this morning.

“Workers are angry, but not surprised that Glencore is now attacking their health and safety, their union representation, their pensions and benefits,” Dempsey said. “Our members are angry, but not surprised, that Glencore prefers to lock out its employees, rather than negotiate a fair contract.”

In addition to demands for concessions on pensions and benefits, Glencore wants to eliminate two full-time, paid positions that provide union representation to smelter employees on critical issues including workplace health and safety.

“In this day and age, it is unconscionable for any corporation to try to weaken health and safety representation for its employees. Companies should be committed to strengthening health and safety protections,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“The Brunswick Smelter is a hazardous and challenging workplace where employees face ever-present health and safety risks. It is beyond the pale for Glencore to try to weaken the critical health and safety representation that their employees need,” Warren said.

Provincial health and safety inspectors have been summoned to the smelter by the union numerous times over the last few years, resulting in many orders issued to the company to address safety issues, the union says.

The pervasive culture of anti-labour hostility also led to an official complaint from the union, which prompted a third-party investigation that confirmed the union’s concerns.

The USW also is concerned about rumours that Glencore will attempt to operate the smelter during the lockout, even on a partial basis, with management and supervisory staff.

“We would have grave concern for the safety of supervisors if the company attempted to continue operating the plant in that way,” Dempsey said. “The risks would be considerable.”

The USW has indicated it is prepared to resume negotiations at any time to reach a fair settlement that benefits workers and the company.

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For further information:

Bart Dempsey, President, USW Local 7085, 506-522-7085, 506-543-5931, royce@nbnet.nb.ca
Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Lawrence McKay, USW Area Co-ordinator, Atlantic Canada, 506-857-0999, 506-232-8472, lmckay@usw.ca
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca

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