MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Faced with crisis, Brazil's Vale asks for relaxation of labour laws - Protestan contra despidos de Vale

Published by MAC on 2008-12-22

Declining orders from China have resulted in shutdowns by the world's biggest iron ore producer, Vale Inco of Brazil.

A week after announcing the sacking of 1,300 workers, and placing another five and a half thousand employees "on leave", the company reportedly called on the government to "relax" strict labour laws which are designed to protect workers from dismissal and guarantee their collective bargaining power.


Brazil's Vale Fires 1,300 and Halts Operations Due to Crisis

9th December 2008

www.brazzilmag.com

Vale's Tubarão operations Vale, Brazil's giant mining company, announced this Monday, December 8, in an official press release on its website, the suspension of operations at two plants located in the Port of Tubarão, in the state of Espírito Santo, with total annual production capacity of 7.3 million metric tons of pellets (small lumps of iron ore).

Interruption of production is a direct consequence of decreasing orders from China, which is the leading client of the Brazilian multinational and is also a market affected by the global crisis. "The decision to curtail pellet production is due to the unprecedented contraction of the global demand for iron ore and pellets," informs the release by Vale, which does not announce new dismissals.

According to the company, interruption at the two plants adds up to the interruption of activities at two other of Vale's units at Port of Tubarão, since November 5, 2008.

Furthermore, it is part of a production adjustment already underway in the company, which has suspended, up until January 2009, "two pellet plants. The plants currently being kept idled involve an overall total capacity of 29.3 million metric tons of pellets per year," informs the release. "In light of the severe global recession and the uncertainties about the future, Vale will continue to manage its production in line with its assessment of market conditions prevailing in the short-term," informs the release issued by the mining company.

Last week, Vale dismissed 1,300 employees and placed another 5,500 on leave. According to the press office at the mining company, Vale is relocating dismissed personnel to other factories.


Brazil's Vale asks gov't to help avoid layoffs

By STAN LEHMAN

15th December 2008

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - The president of the world's largest iron ore producer is asking the government to ease up on its tough labor laws as a way to avoid laying off workers amid the global economic crisis, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Roger Agnelli, president of mining concern Companhia Vale Rio Doce SA, personally conveyed to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and trade union representatives the importance of "making labor laws more flexible," Agnelli was quoted by O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper as saying.

Before he became president, Silva gained prominence as leader of the nation's largest union.

Vale did not immediately respond to an e-mail requesting confirmation of Agnelli's remarks.

Labor laws make it expensive for Vale and other companies to fire workers in Brazil.

"The government and trade unions must convince themselves of the need to make labor laws a bit more flexible," Agnelli told the newspaper. "Collective work contracts could be suspended and the number of hours worked and wages could be reduced."

Agnelli said such moves would be temporary to help weather the crisis.

"I know I am proposing something that is very difficult," he said. Resolving problems in difficult times requires "exceptional measures."

Agnelli also said he would accept a temporary salary cut "until the situation improves."

Earlier this month, Vale cut 2 percent of its work force because of slumping global demand for iron. The cut amounted to 1,300 jobs from its global work force of about 62,000. An additional 5,500 workers are being idled with pay to slow production, and 1,200 are being retrained for new assignments.

It also recently suspended production of iron-ore pellets at two of its plants in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo because of the "severe global recession" and decreased demand from steel makers. The two plants produce 7.3 million metric tons per year.

The plants' closure came on the heels of Vale's decision to close indefinitely a mine in Canada's Ontario province. The company also shut down operations in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador for the month of July and delayed for a year the sinking of a new shaft in Labrador.


Protestan en Rio con muñecos contra despidos de la gigante minera Vale

19 de Diciembre de 2008

Fuente: AFP

Sindicalistas realizaron este viernes una protesta en Rio de Janeiro frente a la sede de la gigante de la minería brasileña Vale contra los despidos efectuados por la mayor productora mundial de hierro debido a la crisis financiera global.

Unos 150 gremialistas del sector metalúrgico colocaron cientos de muñecos plásticos desnudos en el suelo y en contenedores de basura frente de la sede de la empresa en el centro de Rio de Janeiro, representando las familias de los 1.300 funcionarios que iban a ser despedidos alegando una caída drástica de la demanda externa, derivada de la crisis.

"Este también fue un acto contra las declaraciones del presidente de la Vale que quiere cortar los derechos de los trabajadores", aseguró el titular del Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de Prospección, Búsqueda y Extracción de Minerales de Rio, (Sindimia), Jorge Campos.

A inicios de diciembre Vale anunció el despido de 1.300 empleados en Brasil y varios países, además de la reducción drástica de su producción de níquel en Canadá. Campos dijo que las dimisiones podrían llegar en total a 3.000.

El presidente de Vale, Roger Agnelli, había declarado en una entrevista con un periódico local que se debía impulsar una "flexibilización" de las leyes laborales brasileñas para que el sector privado pueda afrontar la crisis.

Asimismo, la firma dio vacaciones colectivas de 30 días, entre diciembre y enero, a 5.500 empleados, mientras que otras 1.200 personas deben realizar cursos de especialización para asumir otras funciones.

El 8 de diciembre la Vale había anunciado un nuevo recorte de producción con la suspensión de operaciones de dos plantas de fabricación de hierro en el puerto de Tubarao, estado de Espírito Santo, con capacidad total de producción de 7,3 millones de toneladas métricas anuales de pelotas (pellets) de hierro.

Vale ya había parado la actividad de otras dos plantas en la misma región desde el 5 de noviembre, en tanto otras dos compartidas con la local Samarco Mineraçao se encuentran sin producir hasta mediados de enero.

Vale produjo en 2007 unas 296 millones de toneladas de hierro y 35,975 millones de toneladas de pelotas de hierro (esta última cifra sin contar la producción con usinas asociadas).

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