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Steelworkers stand up and refuse to be bullied by Glencore

July 21, 2022

MONTREAL – The 630 workers on strike at Nunavik’s Raglan Mine, owned by Glencore, rejected the company’s latest offer by a vote of 76.7%.

Represented by United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 9449, members will intensify their strike efforts in the coming days. The mine is located more than 1,800 km north of Montreal in a fly-in, fly-out location.

Unionized Raglan Mine workers have been on strike for seven weeks, fighting against the increased use of subcontracting and pushing for better working conditions. On July 10, the Anglo-Swiss multinational tabled a new offer just two minutes after the expiry of two ultimatums presented to the union in conciliation. In the newest offer, Glencore demanded that the union accept less than previously proposed (which the workers had rejected by 97.5% two months earlier) or it would take all proposals off the table, forcing negotiations to return to square one.

A month ago, the Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal (Tribunal administratif du travail) ruled that, with respect to its Raglan Mine Security Service, the company had “failed in its obligation to negotiate diligently and in good faith;” had demonstrated “constant anti-union considerations […] of thinly disguised hostility;” and was motivated by a desire to send “a clear message from the company to the other units that will be soon in negotiations.”

“That message was intended for our members who are rejecting cut-rate offers from Glencore for the second time,” said USW staff representative Harold Arseneault. “Let the message from our members ring loud and clear all the way to head office: we’re not afraid; we will not be bullied and we will remain standing until a negotiated agreement is reached.”

This comes at a time when Glencore is making headlines for its environmental record, its tax havens and allegations of financial scandals recently uncovered by an international consortium of investigative journalists. “All eyes in Quebec are now on Glencore,” said Éric Savard, president of USW Local 9449. “We are calling on management to respect workers and comply with labour laws by promptly returning to the bargaining table.”

In addition, Steelworkers union locals in Quebec continue to send donations to striking members at Raglan Mine. On Tuesday, Local 9700 at the Aluminerie de Bécancour (ABI) made a recurring monthly donation of $7,000 to the Raglan Mine workers. “I would like to thank the members of Local 9700 and their President Éric Drolet for their support,” said Éric Savard. “We are still asking other locals across North America to continue their support for us in our fight.”

Affiliated with the FTQ, the Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers union is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

The USW represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of our strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including good wages, benefits and pensions.

Jocelyn Desjardins, 514-604-6273, jdesjardins@metallos.ca

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