March 02, 2010
NDP leader Jack Layton's letter to PM Harper "regarding the urgent matter of the on-going strike by United Steelworkers Local 6500 at Vale-Inco
Hon. Jack Layton, MP / depute
Toronto ‐ Danforth
Leader, New Democratic Party
Chef, Nouveau parti démocratique
February 12, 2010
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
We write regarding the urgent matter of the on‐going strike by members of United
Steelworkers Local 6500 (USW 6500) at Vale Inco in Sudbury, a strike which is quickly
approaching the seven‐month mark, with no end in sight.
We believe that a strong case can be made for proactive involvement by the Minister of Labour for the following reasons:
1) The detrimental impact the strike is having on not just the Sudbury economy, but
those of other cities in Canada.
Vale Inco, a wholly‐owned subsidiary of Vale (Vale S.A.) of Brazil, has more than one
location in Canada. The workers at Vale Inco’s other Canadian locations; Port
Colbourne, Ontario, and Voisey’s Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, are also involved in
a strike. These strikes, involving the same multi‐national mining company, are having a hugely detrimental impact on the local economies and businesses and the surrounding areas.
2) The current strikes taking place in Canada are affecting the global price of nickel.
As the second largest mining company in the world, the strikes at Vale Inco are now
affecting the global price of nickel. The strike can no longer be considered a private
matter between a local company and its employees.
3) Vale Inco has refused to return to the negotiating table without pre‐conditions.
The recent successful negotiations between the Xstrata mining company and the
Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 598 show that a resolution can be found when
two sides come together with no pre‐conditions, and bargain in good faith. The USW
6500 has noted that the issues resolved during bargaining at Xstrata are similar to
those USW 6500 has with Vale Inco.
4) Vale Inco has taken the unprecedented step of resuming production at its mines in
Sudbury with replacement workers.
Such actions on the part of Vale Inco management have inflamed tensions in these
Northern Ontario communities―communities that have already suffered enough from
the impact of the strike and the economic downturn.
We urge you to instruct Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt to immediately engage in dialogue with Vale Inco and USW, with the aim of bringing both sides back to the negotiating table at the earliest opportunity.
Canadian communities are struggling in the face of these ongoing strikes. With workers no longer collecting a paycheque, they are no longer pumping money into the local economy.
As such, while many workers are at risk of losing their home, countless others in these communities are at risk of losing their businesses.
Vale Inco has set a negative precedent by bringing in replacement workers and resuming production during the strike. The Minister of Labour has an opportunity to set a positive precedent by proactively engaging both sides in this strike.
Please don’t waste this valuable opportunity. We look forward to your positive response.
Hon. Jack Layton, MP
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada
Claude Gravelle, MP Nickel Belt
Glenn Thibeault, MP Sudbury
CC: The Honourable Minister of Labour, Lisa Raitt
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