Unions planning action

Daniel MacEachern
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Labour leader says Voisey's Bay strike testing membership's resolve

As the striking workers of Voisey’s Bay prepare to mark its first anniversary on the picket line, the union vows to hold out “one day longer than the company.”

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Lana Payne (left) and United Steelworkers Local 9508 president Darren Cove meet with reporters during a break in an emergency meeting of labour leaders Wednesday at the Holiday Inn.


During an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon of Newfoundland labour leaders, Lana Payne, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, denounced Vale’s tactics since workers went on strike Aug. 1, 2009.

“We felt it was really important to bring together as many of the leadership in the labour movement that we could get available,” she said.

“And talk about the situation in Voisey’s Bay, the challenges that this strike is posing not just to the membership of the Steelworkers, but to the entire labour movement, because this is a big and serious problem when we have a company of this size that can come in to this province and figures it can play by its rules and erode labour rights in the process, hire scab labour, and try and test at every turn the resolve of our movement,” she said.

Darren Cove, president of the striking United Steelworkers Local 9508, said the next step for the union is to find out where the membership stands.

“We did have a meeting in Goose Bay yesterday. The membership still are strong in their belief. They still stand by their union and bargaining committee, and they’re prepared to stay the course as well.”

He said the membership has told the bargaining committee to hold out “as long as it takes.”

“I hate to use any kind of analogy or anything, but they’re still telling us, ‘one day longer than the company.’”

Cove said about half of the union’s members have taken temporary employment.

“We felt it was really important to bring together as many of the leadership in the labour movement that we could get available,” Lana Payne said

“It helps boost the strike fund and it enables the members who are on the picket line every day to stay that much longer,” he said, adding members who have found work elsewhere donate their strike pay back into the strike fund, and it’s distributed to members still on the picket line.

Representatives from unions including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees and the Public Service Alliance of Canada attended the meeting at the Holiday Inn Wednesday. Payne said she was pleased they could come at short notice.

“We’re all very concerned about what’s happening here,” she said, and noted the labour federation sent a letter to the premier last week calling on the provincial government to implement replacement worker legislation and to send the dispute to binding arbitration.

After the meeting, Payne said the unions will unveil a “plan of action” to garner support for the striking workers, but did not reveal details.

“Some of that will unfold as it’s happening, but suffice it to say we have a campaign strategy planned for the next little bit, and we’ll be carrying it out with all the support of the unions of the Federation of Labour.”



Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, United Steelworkers Local 9508, Canadian Union of Public Employees Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees Public Service Alliance of Canada Holiday Inn

Geographic location: Voisey, Newfoundland, Goose Bay

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Recent comments

  • newf
    August 11, 2010 - 09:31

    the gov 't should close out the whole deal concerning voisy bay right from start it was a bad deal get rid of foreignors

  • Scably McSnivells
    August 02, 2010 - 09:51

    No Kim, I'm not management. It's just that I respect my management. Typical union radical mentality. Our CEOs earn every dollar they make, not like those lazy millionare union bosses who have no concern for the welfare of our upper management. I like Hardrock's suggestion that they decertify and dealing with Vale themselves -- I know that Vale would *really* like to negotiate with these layabouts when there are people like me and Hardrock Miner and other pro-management types who would happily take their jobs for whatever Vale deems fair.

  • union supporter
    July 30, 2010 - 07:43

    The larger the corporation the more malicious and callous they are. This is a huge company that makes "Billions" in profits every year and is growing. Yet people on these blogs are calling the workers greedy and lazy? Who made the company successful...just the company execs? As for an earlier comment about the government protecting legislation, look at Ontario for example; they had antiscab legislation until the PC government came into power. Since the PC's are corporate friendly, the first thing they did was eradicate the antiscab legislation. So who now has to fight for labour law? That's right..."Unions" do! So now all the scabs get to enjoy the fruits of those unions fights. Hope this sheds some light on some of the ignorance out there.

  • Hardrock Miner
    July 30, 2010 - 07:33

    Red’s comment is typical union radical mentality. Check the following video and tell me you agree with this behavior. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSb-pFU6qVw&has_verified=1 The truth is that the union leaders are the ones screwing their members… send these union fools packing back to Pittsburg where they belong. The workers would be way better off decertifying this American union and talking to Vale themselves.

  • dorothy
    July 29, 2010 - 17:56

    Give it all to Danny Williams boy he is all right as long as newfoundland is taking care of.Take the wealth from LABRADOR and give nothing back.............

  • Red
    July 29, 2010 - 11:01

    Alot of scabs on here today, sound a little jealous to me. Typical Newfie attitude, screw thy neighbour. Why not give these guys some support as they are fighting to keep what they have against a multibillion dollar foreign company taking tens of billions of profit from our resources and investing them in Brazil. All we are left with is the few years work and a pile of pollution that can never be cleaned up. We need to take what we can get from these bastards because if it were up to them everyone would be paid peanuts, just like they pay in third world countries where they operate. Go to school, get a good education, work hard get some experience and maybe someday you people can get your own good paying job and stop blaming other people for your situation. If you can't find work, move.

  • Scably McSnivells
    July 29, 2010 - 10:49

    I agree with all above. Union workers have it too good with all their benefits, and good paying jobs, and at whose expense? Our employers! Workers in China make a fraction of what the over-paid, coddled workers here do. If we expect to compete we must abolish our unions, chuck out all the rules and regulations that bind the hands of business, and the lazy workers here had better be ready and willing to accept the realities of the market. I for one am happy to have a job and respect my employer enough not to demand this and that. I would be happy to take one of those jobs at Vale and I wouldn't complain about benefits (I will pay my own health bills and I don't need vacations). I would also be willing to take any wage offered to me. I will take a Vale worker's job and I will take YOUR job if you don't cooperate with your employer.

    • Kim
      July 30, 2010 - 14:07

      Scably McSnivells - your names says it all. Obviously you are management at some company that expects people to work for peanuts. Guess what? It is not a race to the bottom. Corporations rob workers and taxpayers blind, and CEO's and upper management get exhorbitant wages and benefits that they are not entitled to nor deserve. Here's a suggestion - move to China & take one of those jobs and let us know how it's workin' for ya ...

    • bigal
      July 30, 2010 - 21:27

      You are an idiot.

    • dave
      July 31, 2010 - 13:00

      hey scably, maybe your content to work for$10.00 per hour NO BENIFETS, NO HOLIDAYS, NO RAISES . You could work for me any time as long as I make MILLIONS and can enjoy YOUR efforts. GO work in China ,and see how long you last, lol

  • Average Joe
    July 29, 2010 - 08:27

    “... the entire labour movement" Ummm... the labour movement for the Western world was in the early 1900's. I think its safe to say its over after a century later. "... erode labour rights in the process” No company can erode labour rights as they are protect by government legislation. You know, the basic labour standards with respect to minimum pay, safety, etc.. What your union is fighting for is "gravy" that is in addition to the labour rights... the bonus', vacation time, health, dental and a company contributed pension. Unions today seem to forget that 5 weeks vacation, $35/hr wages, full health and dental, bonus', pensions, and other perks are not the norm in most industries. They rant about "sticking it to the man" and expect everyone to support them in their "fight" when most people could only dream of the "labour rights" they are turning down.

  • BI
    July 29, 2010 - 08:00

    My comment is with all the people looking for work, and crying for good paying jobs, and to know that these people have been on strike for a year, my opinion is to lay them all off, and hire new people willing to work. Look at Aliant, they didn't accept a tentative offer, and now they will have lay offs. Some sort of job is better than none, so everyone there should get off their .... and get to work. You make me ashamed that you are called Newfoundlanders and are giving our province the bad reputation we already have of being lazy no-gooders, on the dole.

  • Mike
    July 29, 2010 - 07:26

    Leave it to a Newfoundlander --- get a good job then go on strike. A few years ago, most of this bunch were complaining because they could not find work in Newfoundland. Stop bellyaching and go back to work.