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Steelworkers Disappointed with Vale as Voisey’s Bay Talks Break Off

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is disappointed by multinational giant Vale’s refusal to engage in serious negotiations with workers at Voisey’s Bay mining operations in Labrador, leading to a breakdown in contract talks.

Negotiations broke off yesterday between Vale and USW Local 9508, representing 250 production and maintenance workers.

“We started bargaining in February and we still haven’t been able to get the company to negotiate seriously on any of the key issues,” said USW Staff Representative Boyd Bussey.

Vale has been unwilling to address important issues such as health and safety concerns that have become more crucial as the company develops its underground mining operations at Voisey’s Bay, Bussey said.

“The last collective agreement expired on March 31 and we were committed to remaining at the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract. But there have been no meaningful negotiations and it seems the company prefers a more confrontational approach,” Bussey said.

Talks broke off despite the appointment of a provincial conciliation officer to try to assist in the negotiations. The conciliator will now submit a report to the province’s labour minister as part of a process that will lead to the parties being in a legal strike/lockout position within the next few weeks.

“We are very disappointed with the company’s approach to date, which only undermines the goal of achieving a settlement without conflict,” Bussey said.

Union membership meetings will be held in the near future to discuss the status of negotiations and the next steps for the workers, he said.

“Workers, their families and their communities expect a fair deal, not the senseless provocations of the past,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“Engaging in meaningful negotiations would demonstrate a real commitment from Vale to move beyond its tainted labour relations history at Voisey’s Bay,” Warren said.

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For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario, 416-243-8792
Boyd Bussey, USW Staff Representative, 709-753-0864, 709-727-8632, bbussey@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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