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Xstrata, Local 598 talking as deadline looms

Two days before the strike deadline, negotiations are ongoing between Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW.
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Two days before the strike deadline, negotiations are ongoing between Xstrata Nickel and Mine Mill Local 598/CAW.

“There is very little to update at this time other than negotiations are still continuing, and we remain committed to focusing our efforts on successfully renewing our collective agreement with the union,” Xstrata Nickel spokesperson Yonaniko Grenon said in an email statement.

“Our attention continues to be placed on this goal.”

Local 598 president Richard Paquin did not return phone calls from Northern Life Jan. 29, but union staff indicated he's in negotiations.

On Jan. 16, union members voted 96 per cent in favour of giving Local 598 a strike mandate.

Paquin told Northern Life at the time the union could, technically, go on strike as of midnight Jan. 31, and the company could also lock workers out.

However, in 2010, during the last set of negotiations, a contract was reached in the early morning hours of Feb. 1, a few hours after the last contract expired.

In that case, the union didn't set up picket lines because they knew they were close to a deal, Paquin said.

Local 598 went on strike twice in the early 2000s — six and a half months in 2000 and three weeks in 2004 — when the company was still owned by Falconbridge.

However, since Xstrata bought out Falconbridge in 2006, Local 598 has negotiated two contracts in a row without going on strike.

During the Jan. 16 interview, Paquin revealed few details of the negotiations, but said the two sides were working on contract language. Media reports indicate negotiators have since moved onto working on monetary issues.


Heidi Ulrichsen

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