Mine re-opening may be ill-advised

Some unionized technical workers may be used underground
By Lorna Harris
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 10/09/2009

Vale Inco has announced plans to train about 1,200 employees in order to re-open its Sudbury nickel mine, despite the on-going strike by 3,100 of its production employees. Represented by the United Steelworkers Local 6500, the workers walked off the job on July 13 after rejecting (by 85 per cent) what they saw as an overly concessionary proposal for a new contract. This is the first time in 60 years that the plant will attempt to operate during a work stoppage. Not surprisingly, union officials are angry that the Brazilian-based company has decided to resume production.

According to the Sudbury Star, about 50 members of sister union Local 2020, representing the office and technical employees, have been earmarked as having enough mining training to do the work of underground production and maintenance workers. The union is concerned they are being asked to do work they have not done in years. The company said they will be trained for their new duties. Refusal to work — or cross the picket line — may result in discipline.