MAC: Mines and Communities

Xstrata: Wrong For Falconbridge, Workers And Sudbury

Published by MAC on 2006-05-17

Xstrata: Wrong for Falconbridge, Workers and Sudbury

Steelworkers intensify opposition to Xstrata Plc bid to take over Falconbridge

Toronto Globe and Mail

17th May 2006

SUDBURY, ON - United Steelworkers' Ontario/Atlantic Director Wayne Fraser said Wednesday that the long-anticipated bid by Xstrata Plc to overtake Falconbridge is "a nightmare come true" and cannot be allowed to proceed.

"The United Steelworkers has been consistent - we have opposed Xstrata from day one" said Fraser. "For Falconbridge employees, an Xstrata takeover is the worst of all the options that are on the table.

"Our members at Falconbridge know that if Xstrata wins, their workplace here in Sudbury will be a tiny cog in a huge Swiss machine - a machine with a worrisome history and no commitment to Sudbury."

Myles Sullivan, president of the Steelworkers' Local 2020 at Falconbridge, repeated his position that a merger with Inco is better than being overtaken by Xstrata or indeed any other company.

"Inco has new mines waiting to be developed," said Sullivan. "And Inco's larger infrastructure can also offer a chance for the members to bid, transfer or post to operations closer to their homes. Inco is just a better option for our younger members and our senior members too."

Sullivan added that these considerations are over and above Xstrata's disastrous record in labour and community relations.

The United Steelworkers represents close to 8,500 workers in 15 Inco and Falconbridge bargaining units across North America, as well as 20,000 retirees.

In December 2006, the Steelworkers Inco/Falconbridge Council endorsed the proposed acquisition of Falconbridge by Inco. The rank and file council also detailed the Union's opposition to Xstrata.

The Steelworkers' opposition to Xstrata is based on:

* the superiority of the Inco-Falconbridge merger for mining employees' bargaining power
* the superiority of the Inco-Falconbridge merger for the job and retirement security of mining employees in Sudbury.
* Xstrata's poor labor, environmental and community record.

"Earlier in this debate, senior CAW spokespeople seemed to take the position that it made little difference what company bought Falconbridge." said Fraser, " But recently, local Mine Mill leaders have come out in support of the Inco bid. We welcome that support, however belated. We all need to work together to defend this community."

"We don't wear rose-coloured glasses - we've had to fight Inco in the past and we're ready to do so again," Fraser added. "But this union was never afraid to take a position on who should own Falconbridge - and who shouldn't."

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