Wildcat strike hits N.L. Vale construction project

Vale seeks application to prosecute picketing workers

(Reuters) — A wildcat strike by construction workers at iron ore company Vale's nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, N.L.dragged into its fifth day on July 16, with hundreds of union members refusing to enter the job site in protest over wages.

Strikers lined the road to the construction project, ignoring calls from union representatives to return to work.

The company was in court on July 16 seeking application to prosecute picketing workers for contempt of court.

About half the workforce, or some 1,000 workers, were working at the $3.6 billion construction project on July 16, Vale said. 

The Brazilian mining giant is building the Long Harbour plant to process nickel from its Voisey's Bay project in Labrador. The facility is expected to start operations in 2013.

The strike started On July 12, when some 100 crane operators blocked the entrance to the construction site.

The operators were upset over pay, which they say is lower than in other parts of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said. Workers at Long Harbour are represented by a number of unions and all have collective agreements in place.

Vale won a court injunction last week to prevent workers from blocking the road to the project. It was not clear on July 16 if the strike would cause project delays.

"This is an important project for us," said Vale Canada spokesman Cory McPhee. "We need to see this through to completion and these types of interruptions certainly don't help."

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