Skip to content

2011 Year in review - Effects of Vale strike still felt in 2011

Although the year-long labour dispute between Vale and Steelworkers Local 6500 was over in July 2010, its long-lasting effects continued to make the news this year.
310111_HU_Steelworkers_Case_1 copy
Frank Addario (forefront), the defence attorney for Patrick Veinot, Mike French and Jason Patterson, speaks to the media in front of the Sudbury Courthouse Jan. 31. French was found guilty of assault, but all three were acquitted of criminal harassment. Also in the photo are Veinot (left) and Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Although the year-long labour dispute between Vale and Steelworkers Local 6500 was over in July 2010, its long-lasting effects continued to make the news this year.

Ontario Labour Relations Board hearings into the union’s bargaining in bad faith complaint against Vale were held throughout 2011, with the final arguments heard in Sudbury in early December.

The union is alleging that the company’s refusal to allow an arbitrator to decide on the fate of eight fired workers held up negotiations, and thus, the company bargained in bad faith.

The labour board is expected to issue a written decision in the new year.

Last January, three of the fired men appeared in the Sudbury Courthouse to hear the verdict in criminal charges brought against them after an incident involving a jogger who crossed the picket line during the strike.

Although Mike French was found guilty of assault, he was found not guilty of criminal harassment. Local 6500 vice-president Patrick Veinot and Local 6500 treasurer-secretary Jason Patterson were also found not guilty of criminal harassment.

In December, the labour relations board ordered Vale to allow Veinot on company property once again, stating refusing breached the section of the labour relations act dealing with interference in the administration of a union.

Tragedy strikes

On June 9, tragedy struck at Vale when two workers at the company’s Stobie Mine were killed on the job.

Thirty-five-year-old Jason Chenier and 26-year-old Jordan Fram died after an unscheduled run of “muck” came down an ore pass and overtook the miners on the 3,000-foot level.

Vale and Steelworkers Local 6500 normally conduct joint investigations into workplace accidents. They were unable to agree on how the investigation would be carried out, and so decided to conduct separate investigations.

Emissions spending

Both Vale and Xstrata Nickel are making major investments in emissions reduction technology in order to meet more stringent Ministry of the Environment regulations. Both companies had applied to the ministry for more time to meet specific parts of these regulations as this technology comes on lnie. Vale learned last week that its 10-year extension was granted.

New partnership

In May, Vale and Xstrata announced a partnership where Xstrata will utilize its existing shaft infrastructure at Fraser Mine in Levack to mine Vale ore bodies currently only accessible from the Fraser Mine.

The partnership resulted in the recall of 75 Xstrata workers laid off during the 2009 recession.

Chromite plant

In February, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced it had chosen Capreol as the “base case” location to process chromite from the Ring of Fire deposit, although a final decision on the plant’s location hasn’t been made.

The company was well received by Capreol community members at a November project open house.

Less than a month later, the NDP expressed concern Cliffs may seek an exemption to the Mining Act so it can ship concentrate from the deposit to refineries outside of Canada.

Quadra on the block

In early December, mid-tier mining company Quadra FNX agreed to a $3.5 billion takeover offer from Polish company KGHM Polska Miedz S.A. Shareholders and warrant holders will be asked to approve the arrangement in late February. Quadra FNX’s Sudbury-area operations comprise the Levack Mine, including the Morrison Deposit, the Podolsky Mine and the McCreedy West Mine, as well as the polymetallic Victoria development project.


Posted by Jenny Jelen 


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.