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Locked-Out New Brunswick Workers Build Solidarity in Colombia

BELLEDUNE, N.B. – A United Steelworkers (USW) delegation representing locked-out Brunswick Smelter employees will be in Colombia this week to build international labour solidarity in their struggle against attacks on workers’ health and safety by resource giant Glencore.

The USW delegation will be in Valledupar, Colombia, for two days of meetings with workers from Glencore operations in 12 countries. The meetings, which begin Thursday, are organized by the Glencore Global Network of the international labour federation IndustriALL, which represents 50 million workers worldwide.

About 280 workers from the Brunswick Smelter in Belledune, members of USW Local 7085, have been locked out of their jobs by Glencore since April 24. The Switzerland-based multinational is demanding concessions that include attacks on the workers’ health and safety standards and union representation.

“Glencore has a history of prioritizing profits over the health and safety of workers at its operations around the world,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“Glencore workers in New Brunswick are facing the same struggle, as Glencore tries to strip away health and safety standards and union representation,” Warren said.

“It’s clear that Glencore management is specifically targeting New Brunswick workers,” he added. “Our members have been locked out because they simply want to maintain the same working conditions as employees at Glencore’s other Canadian operations.”

Corporate executives from Glencore headquarters are scheduled to appear at the IndustriALL meetings in Colombia this week. The USW delegation intends to press the Glencore executives to end the Brunswick Smelter lockout and negotiate a collective agreement that respects existing health and safety standards and union representation.

“When our members attended Glencore’s shareholders’ meeting in May in Switzerland, corporate representatives stated they were committed to progressive labour relations and a safe workplace at the Brunswick Smelter,” Warren said.

“But those words have yet to translate into any goodwill from Glencore management at the bargaining table. Glencore is still trying to inflict concessions on workers and is prolonging an unnecessary lockout that is bad for families and bad for the community,” he noted.

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For further information:

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
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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