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Good contract for Steelworkers at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane

SEPT-ÎLES, Que. – Members of Steelworkers Local 4466 at the Tio mine in Havre-Saint-Pierre, Que., today ratified a new collective agreement by a 97% majority. The mine is operated by Rio Tinto Fer et Titane.

The four-year contract includes significant gains for workers and will add $11 million in spending in the local economy. The agreement was negotiated several months before the existing contract expires in September of this year.

“This is an important gain for the workers, but also for the economy of the entire Minganie region. It's money that will be invested here, spent here and that the whole community will benefit from," said USW Local 4466 President Jean-François Boudreau.

Wages will increase by a total of more than 10% over four years, not including additional increases expected from cost-of-living provisions negotiated into the contract. The agreement also provides pension and life insurance improvements, an increased training bonus and a new floating holiday.

"This is a very good contract. We’re pleased to see members’ purchasing power protected and improved benefits. This secures the future of the Tio mine's activities, as some 40 weeks of work are still planned for next year," Boudreau said.

Crucially, the contract includes a comprehensive expansion of language on workplace health and safety in order to protect workers, in light of new legislation recently passed by Quebec’s right-wing government that weakens provincial health and safety regulations.

“It was important that the collective agreement include health and safety prevention mechanisms that previously existed in health and safety legislation,” Nicolas Lapierre, USW regional co-ordinator for Quebec’s North Shore.

“This collective agreement compensates for the setbacks in the Quebec legislation. Fortunately, the employer was on the same wavelength as we were – it saw that the prevention regime was working well at the Tio mine and agreed to include it in the agreement,” Lapierre noted.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour/Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all economic sectors.

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