Xstrata Nickel office, clerical and technical workers voted 99 per cent in favour of giving their union a strike mandate Feb. 25.
Steelworkers Local 2020, which represents the 225 workers, has been attempting to negotiate a new deal with the company before the midnight Feb. 28 strike deadline.
Marc Ayotte, a staff rep with the Steelworkers, said the strong strike mandate shows Xstrata Nickel that its workers are behind their bargaining committee.
He said negotiations with the company, which have been ongoing since Feb. 4, are going “relatively well.” The two sides are still meeting on a daily basis, Ayotte said.
“We're a lot closer (to a deal) today than we were two weeks ago,” he said. “It's a relative question.”
In 2010, Local 2020 reached a three-year deal with Xstrata Nickel on behalf of the OCT workers just minutes before the midnight Feb. 28 strike deadline.
“If we have to go to the wee hours, we'll go to the wee hours of the morning, but our mandate is to get a collective agreement,” Ayotte said.
Mine Mill Local 598/CAW, which represents about 900 Xstrata Nickel workers, reached a four-year deal with the company Feb. 1.