Voisey's Bay Report A Victory for Workers, Vindication for Union

ST. JOHN'S, NL, May 12 /CNW/ - A government-commissioned report examining the 18-month labour dispute at Voisey's Bay is a vindication for all workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Although we are disappointed that anti-scab legislation was not included, the report is the first step in restoring fairness for workers and their families in Newfoundland and Labrador," says Wayne Fraser, Director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union in Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

"The commission's report recognizes that existing law does not deal adequately with collective bargaining problems created when powerful multinational corporations are determined to defeat workers at the bargaining table," adds USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann.

"If these recommendations had been in place prior to our negotiations with Vale, we would not have had an 18-month strike and the economic and social harm suffered by working families and their communities," Neumann says.

The Voisey's Bay workers are represented by the USW. Their struggle for a fair collective agreement included an 18-month strike against Brazil-based Vale, which ended in late January of this year.

The Industrial Inquiry Commission recommends the provincial government adopt new mechanisms to "take account of the need to ensure that (multinational) corporations respond to Canadian labour relations values."

The commission also recommends mechanisms to deal with situations in which collective bargaining is undermined by "the relative economic weight" of one of the parties involved.

"In our view, these recommendations reflect Vale's management style and its insistence on reducing the rights of workers in Canada to match its labour relations standards elsewhere in the world," says Fraser.

The Steelworkers welcome the commission's other recommendations, which call on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to:

- Recognize that mandatory labour-management committees should exist in every workplace;

- Implement interest arbitration as an effective means to achieve a fair collective agreement;

- Ensure Vale and the USW work with aboriginal peoples to ensure all participate and share in the benefits of the Voisey's Bay operations.

"We are pleased with the recommendation to work with the aboriginal peoples - the USW has made efforts in this regard and we will continue to do so," Fraser says.

"We are calling on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to do the right thing and put these recommendations into law as quickly as possible."

To view the Industrial Inquiry Commission's complete recommendations, visit www.usw.ca.

CNW, Thurs May 12 2011

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