Vale Inco has refused to negotiate and is attempting to achieve full production using management and scabs. Strikers report only 10 members of Local 6500 have crossed the picket lines.
Protests by strikers and family and community supporters closed city roads to an operating Vale Inco mine and mill May 7-12. The Ontario Labor Relations Board (OLRB) then held a hearing May 14 to decide on the unions request to immediately discuss the question of nine union members fired by the company during the strike on frame-up charges of threatening company officials, security guards, and scabs.
In a ruling announced May 17, the OLRB ignored the union request and directed Vale Inco and the union to restart negotiations with a government mediator.
Vale Inco has been pushing to have the question of the fired workers referred to a drawn-out hearings process on a bad-faith bargaining complaint that the union filed with the labor board in January.
The workers won a victory May 13 when striker Denis Barbeau was acquitted by the Ontario Court of Justice of making criminal threats stemming from a January 21 incident at the unions Copper Cliff picket line.
The determination of the workers to defend their union remains strong. Striker Seepo Vataja, who has worked in the mines for 18 years, told the Militant, The last vote against their contract proposal was bigger than the first vote to go out on strike. The protests showed we have support in the community. At the Clarabelle Mill there were hundreds of people who stayed despite the court order to disperse, and there were students from the university who were there right to the end.
A group of professors at Laurentian University in Sudbury who support Local 6500 forced university officials to cancel facilities there rented by Vale Inco to train scabs. The professors sent an open letter to the administration demanding that Vale Inco apologize for the misuse of the universitys facilities. The company maintained it had a right to rent facilities like any other business and threatened to end its donations to the university.
Busloads of strikers are scheduled to go to Ottawa May 26 for a camp-out on Parliament Hill, where they plan to stay overnight.
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