Work or be fired, unions tell wildcat striking members

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Workers gather near accommodation buildings at the Vale construction site in Long Harbour Thursday following a walkout by crane operators. — Photo by Elizabeth MacDonald/The Charter

The Resource Development Trades Council has told its members to go to work on Monday — or risk losing their jobs.

The council represents 16 unions involved in the construction of the Vale nickel processing plant in Long Harbour.

A wildcat strike has paralyzed the massive project since Thursday.

Crane operators working at the site walked off the job in the early morning hours and kept workers with other trade unions from getting onto the site. Members of other trade unions have since joined them in their protest.

A court injunction has been ordered to prevent them from blocking access to the site.

The trades council told the media today that it did not sanction this strike and said, in no uncertain terms, that it does not support any continuation of that action.

Gus Doyle, president of the council, told reporters that it is encouraging all its members to go back to work on Monday. Otherwise, they could be fired by Vale.

“If not today, maybe tomorrow, the employer will decide that. But yes, eventually they will replace these workers,” said Doyle.

He added that he hopes the situation will not deteriorate that far.

Union members who spoke with reporters following the council press conference expressed frustration with their union for not supporting them. They also brought up a number of issues, they say have been ongoing for some time, as reason enough to strike.

For the full story see Monday’s Telegram.

Organizations: Resource Development Trades Council

Geographic location: Long Harbour

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Recent comments

  • bonnie
    July 16, 2012 - 10:55

    It's time for the wildcat strikers to go back to work and stop this nonsence. My husband is a worker down there and isnt able to work. He has no strike pay (not a memeber of the striking union) and cannot recieve EI benefits (under ei regulations there is work there for him, so he isnt entitled to ei). Now where is the justice in this. If the memebers want alberta wages, GO TO ABLERTA, and let the men and women who want to work, go to work and get a good dollar wage for here in Newfoundland. As for the bull crap about the company getting rich, well news flash, no one starts a company and does it with the intention of becoming poor. Fire them and bring in new men who would love to get the wages these people are receiving.

    • Josh
      July 16, 2012 - 17:55

      Could not agree more. what are their wages in NF?

  • Sparkie Wayne
    July 16, 2012 - 09:42

    Vale broke the original contract...as a union member i fully sgree that now is the time to stick togather....Union leaders stick with your men who voted you into your office....Or you will be gone ....get on the picket line with the voters who put you in or step down.....It is very obvious that you are not experienced in handling your job... Your union members need Soliditary ..That should start with you...Get your pickets on ...get on the front line where you belong and support union not management. I have been a union member for 52 years....and we all stuck togather as union brothers....Remember this is the time for the trades business managers to stand up for the members ...not for Vale's management....Hopefully you get the point.

    • Josh
      July 16, 2012 - 18:02

      I use to belong to a union and would never join another as per they are mostly corrupt and gland hand to their buddies. As the lower politics go the more corrupt they are, and union are the lowest level of politics and say the Prime Minster is the highest not that he is any prize either. Exactly what part of what agreement did the employer change? Tell the world or shut-up. I live in BC and the world would like to know so if we ever work for Vale what to watch out for.

  • saelcove
    July 16, 2012 - 09:37

    has anyone checked out the cost of living in alberts and more to the oilsands terrirory

  • saelcove
    July 16, 2012 - 09:35

    has anyone checked out the cost of living in alberts and more to the oilsands terrirory

  • NotProudNLer
    July 16, 2012 - 00:20

    I'd love to go in and tell my boss tomorrow that I've suddenly decided to not work even though I agreed to my pay and benefits. I'd be fired as these clowns should be. They signed up for a no strike agreement.

  • CJ
    July 15, 2012 - 23:15

    I have a hard time accepting this when I know there are unskilled laborers out there making over $40 an hour... If your last job was pumping gas and you can go out there and make that money, what are people with trades getting paid? You want more, go to Alberta where you can apparently make it... otherwise you have two options: take your wage and be content you have a job at home, or shut the hell up, quit and make room for someone else. There have been two grievances... one won, one lost... grow up and deal with it like the rest of society has to through the proper channels within your union... You people have already helped make it so that average people can't afford to live here... tell me, when you all get paid Alberta wages and benefits, where are the rest of supposed to live?

  • Ron Wade
    July 15, 2012 - 22:56

    There should be no trouble to get another job.Cathy Dunderdale needs lots of workers to build that third module in Nfld.Where would Vale get replacement workers for the wages they are paying.

  • union hater
    July 15, 2012 - 22:18

    Just another case of overpaid UNION officials trying to fear monger their people. Take some good advice....get the unions out. They are a bunch of lazy, fear mongering sleeze balls that are only worried about one thing.......their own paycheck.

  • billy
    July 15, 2012 - 20:18

    Construction worker. For 4 months this company has been saying that they will have an answer for us in a few days or next week on the living out allowence. Just how long do they expect their workers to wait for an answer. My guess is about the same as the mine workers in Voiseys Bay did, for just over a year. Remember that all newfoundlanders benefit from higher wages at Long Harbour. *Including our government.

  • Gerry
    July 15, 2012 - 20:09

    Thank God there are some level and rational thinking heads around here. Good for the RDTC to tell it like it is. There are negotiated contracts in place and workers are expected to work within the terms and conditions therein. If certain trades people don't like the wages they are currently making, under the present contracts, they will have an opportunity at the next round of negotiations (whenever that may be), to attempt to bargain for increases. And if they are going to be happier making better wages in Alberta, then those who want to go to Alberta, should do so. Nobody's holding them back.. What kind of thinking is it, that a person who is working in Alberta (or anywhere for that matter) and wants to come back to NL feels he or she should be paid the same as he/she is being paid in Alberta by a completely unrelated company? I think that is simply juvenile thought.

  • Bernie
    July 15, 2012 - 19:20

    The reason the union is telling you to do your job is because you have no right to strike. Shape up or ship out! If you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence then go to the states and make the extra money they do but don't then complain about the high cost of health care etc

  • Eli
    July 15, 2012 - 19:11

    Any wonder Exxon Mobile want that 3rd module built overseas. Workers in NL are out of control. It's why Marystown can't get steady contracts.

  • JJ
    July 15, 2012 - 18:02

    I believe that everyone should have their say before signing a contract. The workers did (at least those that participate regularly in union business) when the contract for the project was signed. So it is simple really - illegal strike which is not sanctioned results in illegal strikers getting fired. Looks fair to me... But then again - wait a minute I don't like the speed limit so I think I will set my own speed limit. I won't get in trouble for that will I?

  • labourerjoe
    July 15, 2012 - 17:54

    ok so they order all workers back to work? what about the safety issue of a worker who would dare to cross pickett lines to go back to work ? that would be risking bodily harm or damage to personal property ie. car being flipped over myself im exercising my right to refuse unsafe work on those grounds . fire me for refusing to work because of saftey? good luck!

  • No Honor Newfies
    July 15, 2012 - 17:46

    These people have no honor. They agreed to work in these conditions and with these wages. If they didn't like it, why did they take the job? They're cowards who don't honor their word. This type of thing is why the rest of Canada looks down on Newfoundland. Newfies sign up for a no-strick contract and then strike. How can anyone in this province be trusted when people like this keep breaking their word?

  • Jack
    July 15, 2012 - 17:37

    If I was working at a toxic and confrontation environment like Vale Inco and other jobs are available, if I was given a choice between going back to work or fire, I would rather have another option, I quit and tell the employer to hire someone else to abuse. Something to think about. I work in a relatively toxic environment where employees are paid close to minimum wage for highly skilled work, get treated like dirt, but I will still work. However, if a similar job was available at another company, and the salary was much better, I would leave right away. In the meantime, Vale Inco and other "down under" (meaning Southern Hemisphere) based companies, particularly from Brazil and Australia, have to start treating employees like assets to the company and negotiate better terms between company and employees, not like punching bags. Otherwise, these wildcat and illegal strikes will continue.

  • kevin slaney
    July 15, 2012 - 17:36

    Just a quick line as info about the long harbour site. this whole work stoppage has been started by Vale themselves.their main contractor has strayed away from this agreement. They signed a contract that stated they were to pay the living out allowance for the complete week if you worked any part of it. Their has been two grievances filed on this one by lockerbie and hole employees and one by hotel and restaurant workers. The first one was lost by the employees because it was argued in the wrong manner by resource development council .It was argued under the section of the agreement that deals with wages , This was the wrong clause in the agreement.The second was argued under the section of the agreement that deals with living out allowance,this one was won by the employees around a year ago .An forty-two page document was written on this grievance including why the employees won. This was not good enough for the general contractor they would not pay those employees .Flour contracting has taking this decision to the supreme court to try to have it overturned. This is basically what is happening out their. Now employees living out has to pay for the seven days that they are off themselves in order to keep their boarding houses. On a fourteen and seven rotation all though they are working a portion of each week. When they came to work here they did not believe this was the case. The weeks loa. is basically been clawed back from their wages yet reducing an already low wage on canadian standards by seven dollars an hour for a one week period. The minister of labour is all to quick to blame hard working employees for this dispute. He should read this contract before he makes these comments. He should be looking at the bigger picture .As long as vale can prolong this plant they can keep shipping ore out of voisey bay. they are far behind because of their own mistakes and they need someone to blame. yours in solidarity kevin slan would you please include this as an ltter to the editor

  • Jag
    July 15, 2012 - 17:04

    I work at Long Harbor. The illegal strike has been respected by all the trades. However we do need to get back to work. This contract was signed in 2009 by all union. This wildcat has opened eyes and perhaps put some urgency to some needed talks. But the concerns have got to be addressed through the proper channels and respected unions. Paying another worker more for the same job is not acceptable but I have yet to see the proof that this has happened. If it has then the union needs to step in and I think they would have. As for travelers....we all new they were coming....our halls are all but empty. If crane operators want to stay out without the support of the union than I think it's a mistake. If all other trades go back to work the operators have to realize there is still no work getting done without them. Come back to work and get the unions to address issues. The world is aware there are some

  • Jag
    July 15, 2012 - 17:03

    I work at Long Harbor. The illegal strike has been respected by all the trades. However we do need to get back to work. This contract was signed in 2009 by all union. This wildcat has opened eyes and perhaps put some urgency to some needed talks. But the concerns have got to be addressed through the proper channels and respected unions. Paying another worker more for the same job is not acceptable but I have yet to see the proof that this has happened. If it has then the union needs to step in and I think they would have. As for travelers....we all new they were coming....our halls are all but empty. If crane operators want to stay out without the support of the union than I think it's a mistake. If all other trades go back to work the operators have to realize there is still no work getting done without them. Come back to work and get the unions to address issues. The world is aware there are some

  • David
    July 15, 2012 - 17:03

    Quit threatening to go to Alberta...Go, for Gawd's sake, go! Now! PLEASE!

  • proud NLer
    July 15, 2012 - 15:16

    If those workers want Alberta wages then go to Alberta, you are in your home province, no more flying and loosing 2 days travel, if you go to Alberta then don't complain when workers from other countries come here to work, I'm a proud NLer but sometimes I;m ashamed of how my fellow NLers get on. I think NL workers are spoiled by the Alberta oil sands, it has made hard working people lazy.

    • Alberta Bound
      July 15, 2012 - 16:35

      150% correct. Go to Alberta and make space here in Newfoundland for people who want to work and can be trusted when the sign a contract.

    • Jack
      July 15, 2012 - 17:43

      PROUD NLER, your attitude is a reason why Newfoundland and Labrador is losing hard working skill tradespeople. If this province wants to compete with Alberta, major employers have to provide similar salary and perks to the Alberta Oilsands or even better. Keep in mind that the labour market is subjected to global market conditions meaning if they are not right here, then you have a tough time bringing and retaining them. We may even lose more Newfoundland and Labrador tradespeople not only to Fort McMurray, Alberta, but possibly Halifax, Nova Scotia in the next few years due to the Irving Shipbuilding project. As a result, now is the to make Newfoundland competitive with Alberta and its oilsands, and Nova Scotia and its shipbuilding programs, and start providing conditions to keep our brightest tradespeople here.

    • crane operator
      July 15, 2012 - 19:31

      Ok folks its like this, don't be fooled by what Vale or the sad sad media feeds to you as truth. We are not specifically looking for Alberta wages, we are looking for parity with other trades wages here in this province. Vale if you have to be reminded, were the ones who broke this contract in the first place, and we as all the workers of all trades gave them ample time to fix this. We were told over and over and over that they were looking into it, it would be fixed next week, for months on end. Well next week never came so we did the only thing left to do, we walked. This is not, as the media calls it, a strike by OE's, its an all trades strike and the crane operators prevented absolutely nobody from going to work, nor did we threaten anyone. For maybe the first time in a long time if ever, all trades stood together to make a stand. Instead of calling us lazy, greedy or whatever, look deeper into the situation, get the facts, not from Vale or the severely biased media we have here but from the workers themselves! Try backing you own people and not some foreign conglomerate like Vale.

    • Kenneh Simms
      July 15, 2012 - 21:06

      Proud NLER- as like the rest of the people making comments on the wildcat strike, your only making them based on thinking that the striking workers are asking for more money, we aren't asking for more money, we are asking that the company stop taking away that was once there,

  • ALFRED
    July 15, 2012 - 14:17

    what side are the union brass on, work or be fired ! are you joking ? stand up for your members . who the hell you think you are and who pay the dues. STAND UP UNION LEADERS OR YOURE FIRED !

  • Jack
    July 15, 2012 - 14:08

    This strike should have never happened. The workers have been bringing up their issues to vale and their unions for over two years now. They only responce that they have been getting is basically " you should be greatful to have a job, so shut up and do as you as you are told". Vale has taken away a large portion of the workers living allowance - they need to give it back. Vale wants workers to be bussed to work - than they should pay for their own busses. Crane operators in Newfoundland are grossly underpaid- increase base wage. Bring in foreign workers - only when all other all union members are are working.

  • JIM
    July 15, 2012 - 12:07

    court injunction, just goes to show what side these corrupt politicians are on. they couldn't care less about the workers of the province, and that includes the ndp and the liberals. the only time they stick their nose into taxpayer/workers buisness is when they are looking for votes, so they can sit on their butts, collect a fat wage which they don't deserve, wine/dine on our dime, travel the world, and how can we forget their fat pension which they all seem to agree on, all payed for by us the taxpayer. WHAT A CORRUPT SOCIETY WE LIVE IN !

    • Court Injunction
      July 15, 2012 - 16:31

      The corrupt people who walked off the job and refused to abide by their collective agreement. Does that mean its not worth the paper it is written on, or will the Company recoup their cost by suing the Union AND the employees who disrupted the project work.