Michael Moore spotlights Vale for shutting down operations in Manitoba

Michael Moore, political activist and academy-award winner, took sides in the labour fight between Vale and the workers in Thompson, Manitoba.

On Tuesday Moore wrote in his blog that the town and unions are resisting moves by the company to shut down the company's smelter and refinery:

The mine in Thompson used to be run by Inco, a Canadian corporation that made peace with unions and shared the wealth. When Vale bought Inco in 2006, they signed a contract with the government setting out what they would do to benefit Canadians.

Immediately afterward, Vale violated the contract and went on the attack — forcing miners in Sudbury, Ontario out on the longest strike in their history. And now in Thompson they're trying to shut down the smelting and refining operations that have made the city a major economic hub of the province. Meanwhile, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper — think of George W. Bush with a Canadian accent — is actually helping Vale do this to their fellow citizens, with a giant $1 billion government loan which Vale is using to move jobs out of Thompson. Moreover, the largest institutional investor in Vale is Blackrock, an investment firm which in turn is owned by several of America's bailed-out banks … including Bank of America.

On Nov. 2010, Vale announced it would be phasing out operations in Thompson by 2015 citing raw material shortage and tougher environmental regulations as the reasons.

Murray Nychyporuk, United Steelworkers Local 6166 Presdient, called the actions "regrettable".

"We are extremely disappointed to be receiving zero capital money to avoid being able to bring our emissions down to federal 2015 limits. We are also equally disappointed in the federal government’s announcement of lending Vale $1 Billion, none of which is earmarked for the Manitoba Operation to avoid surface closure. USW Local 6166 and the provincial government are extremely frustrated with the systematic corporate machine that is Vale. They have removed the human element from this decision."

Michael Allan McCrae wrote this story. You can contact him at [email protected].