A long-running and bitter strike that has lasted nearly a year could finally be coming to an end for workers in Ontario as mining giant Vale announced both sides had reached a tentative agreement on Sunday.
The Brazilian metals miner said the agreement involves a new five-year contract with United Steel Workers Locals (USW) 6500 and 6200, which represent production and maintenance employees in Sudbury and Port Colborne, Ont.
"It's been a long strike and I think that both sides worked hard," said Cory McPhee, Vale's vice-president of corporate affairs. "Both sides wanted a deal and that ultimately was the driving force to this outcome."
The tentative agreement is to be signed between Vale and the USW in Sudbury and Port Colborne Monday.
"This deal is the best deal that we think we can get at this time," said Wayne Rae, president of USW 6200. "We're not saying it's the best deal possible, but we feel it's the best deal we can get for our members."
More than 3,000 production and maintenance workers at Vale's operations in Sudbury and Port Colborne have been on strike since last July 13.
Before reaching an impasse, the two sides had agreed on all issues except one - the firing of nine workers during the strike and whether they were entitled to arbitration.
A statement from USW 6500 said an agreement had been reached with Vale to have the issue heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board July 9.
"This removes the remaining obstacle in the long struggle with Vale," the statement said.
Other key strike issues included proposals to reduce a bonus tied to the price of nickel, job transfers, contracting out and pensions.
Rae said both sides had reached tentative agreements on all issues and all that remained was a ratification vote by the union members.
The votes have been scheduled for July 7 and 8 in Sudbury and July 8 in Port Colborne.
Vale's nickel business employs more than 11,000 people worldwide and had net sales of US$3.26 billion last year, accounting for 13.6 per cent of Vale's overall revenue.