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Steelworkers strike for basic rights at Iron Ore company of Canada

Published by MAC on 2007-03-13


Steelworkers strike for basic rights at Iron Ore company of Canada

by United St eelworkers (USWA Canada

13th March 2007

LABRADOR CITY, NL - United Steelworkers' (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director Wayne Fraser said Tuesday that Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) has unnecessarily forced a strike by members of USW Locals 5795 and 6731 over basic workers' rights.

"The tipping point in this dispute included such fundamental issues as seniority rights," said Fraser. "It's the kind of thing you would expect to read in history books, not in a modern context of labour relations. It's all about corporate control. Workers deserve to have their most basic rights respected."

Local 5795 President George Kean said IOC's final offer had moved off its demand for concessions and the unfettered right to contract out any job currently performed by union members, but was not enough to avert a strike by the company's 1,000 employees, who are also seeking wage and benefit increases in line with industry standards.

"This fight is about recognizing the intrinsic value our members bring to this operation," said Kean. "2006 broke all production records and our members gave the company the biggest profit in its history."

IOC is 59-per-cent-owned by Rio Tinto Ltd., an Australian-based mining giant with a poor record on such issues as human rights and the environment.

"Our members want to go back to work with a fair and decent contract," said Kean. "We are ready to get back to the bargaining table anytime.

Kean added that a survey by the company of its employees over the last year revealed that 87 per cent felt they were not treated with dignity and respect.

"It's time for IOC to listen to its own survey results and negotiate with the union."

The USW represents more than 280,000 men and women working in every sector of Canada's economy.

CONTACT: Wayne Fraser, 416-243-8792; 416-577-4045; George Kean, 709-944-5051; 709-944-2255

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