Members of Vale Sudbury nickel miners’ union reject new offer

Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator network will be headquartered in Sudbury, Ontario, pictured. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Members of a union representing striking workers from Vale SA’s Sudbury, Canada, nickel mine have rejected the Brazilian company’s latest offer, urging it to commit to “good-faith” talks to settle the strike.

USW Local 6500 members voted by an 87% majority to reject Vale’s second offer in two weeks, the union said. The offer was not that different to the earlier one that had sparked the strike on June 1, it said.

The union had recommended its members reject the Brazilian company’s latest offer, saying it made only “minimal improvements.”

The 2,500 workers at the mine walked off the job on June 1, complaining about plans to cut health and medical benefits for retirees as well as minimal wage increases.

“Vale wants to lower the standard of living for retirees in our community,” United Steelworkers Local 6500 President Nick Larochelle said in a statement.

“Eliminating post-retirement health benefits from other staff is not a justification to take away these benefits from workers who are exposed to toxic and hazardous substances throughout their careers and who often develop serious illnesses and medical conditions in retirement.”

Vale Canada said it was disappointed by its offer being turned down by union members. The company said earlier that its second offer had attempted to addresses issues of concern to workers including wages, pensions and post-retiree benefits.

“Our offer was a genuine and sincere attempt to address the issues brought forth by the Union’s bargaining committee in the most recent round of discussions. Clearly, we remain apart on important issues”, the company said in a statement.

Vale was obliged to halt the mine after the workers rejected its initial offer. USW Local 6200, which represents employees at its separate Port Colborne refinery, favored the proposed deal.

The Brazilian miner is trying to turn around its Ontario operations to lure investments in new sources of ore, the company added.

(By Carolina Mandl and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Tom Hogue and Stephen Coates)

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