MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Brazil, Canadian, mining unions agree on mutual support

Published by MAC on 2008-09-16

Brazilian and Canadian Union Leaders Meet in Thompson: Agree to Support Each Other in Bargaining

United Steel works (USW)

http://www.usw.ca/program/content/5216.php

THOMPSON, MB - Trade union representatives from across Canada and from Brazil converged on Thompson Manitoba on August 12-13 to meet with United Steelworkers union (USW) leaders from Local 6166, and offer their support and encouragement for upcoming negotiations between Vale and Local 6166.

"It is important for us to be here to personally offer our support to the bargaining committee and members of Local 6166, and to make sure Vale understands that the entire Steelworker family is 100 per cent behind our brothers and sisters in Thompson," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

"Brazilian Vale workers stand in solidarity with Steelworkers in Thompson," said Eduardo Pinto, leader of the Sindicato dos Ferroviarios do Maranhoa-MA, CNTT. "Today we have discussed ways in which Vale unions in Canada and Brazil might support each other in our bargaining processes at different Vale operations. We discussed ways in which we might support negotiations in Thompson, and actions Brazilian unions might take to place additional pressure on Vale management, depending on how negotiations proceed here."

"We understand the value of global union solidarity," said Jorge Campos of the union Sindimina-RJ, CNTSM. "When we signed the Sudbury Accord: Building Global Workers Power in 2007 we committed to 'support each other in the collective bargaining process'. We stand by the commitment."

The United Steelworkers and USW Local 6166 are hosting a group of 5 Brazilian trade union leaders representing workers employed by Vale in Brazil.

"The Thompson meeting marks another milestone in the development of the Steelworkers relationship with the Brazilian Vale Unions," said Steve Hunt, Director of District 3, USW. "We again discovered that we have several issues in common with our brothers and sisters in Brazil, including concerns around compensation and the sharing of Vale's astronomical profits through profit sharing programs, the environment and relationships with local communities, and health and safety."

"We discussed how we can take practical steps, despite differences in language, cultural, and laws, to assist each other," said Wayne Fraser, Director of District 6. "Canadian Steelworkers have developed some of the best and most innovative health and safety programs in the mining industry in the world, and we are looking at area as an area of joint work."

"It is a real pleasure for Local 6166 to host Steelworkers in Thompson," said Les Ellsworth, president of USW 6166, "and it has been especially interesting and valuable to learn about the strategies of Brazilian trade union leaders in dealing with Vale management, and the way Brazilian unions are building a union network inside of Brazil and how they are building community support and involvement around issues of the environment and balanced economic development.

At some point in the future, after we get the kind of collective agreement our members deserve, I'm looking to be part of a Steelworker delegation to Brazil that would allow us to experience first hand how Brazilian workers build workers power and deal with Vale on their home turf," Ellsworth said.

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

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