SASKATOON, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - The union representing most of the Potash
Corporation of Saskatchewan's production workers is concerned BHP
Billiton's current hostile takeover bid for the firm.
"On the basis of the union's review of BHP's offer and following
discussions with BHP officials, the takeover has not demonstrated a
clear net benefit to Canada. Such a takeover of a Canadian resource
should not proceed until a net benefit is proven to Canadians under the
federal Investment Canada Act and made public," said Ken Neumann, United
Steelworkers National Director for Canada.
The union has challenged BHP to show what significant benefits a
takeover would provide.
In addition USW Western Canada director Stephen Hunt says the union is
deeply concerned about the possibility of BHP's pulling out of Canpotex,
the potash-marketing agency that for 40 years has sold Saskatchewan's
potash on the global market. "That would be a selfish and reckless
move," said Hunt. "It might be good for BHP but it certainly would not
be good for the Saskatchewan industry, its workers or the people of
As a report in Wednesday's Globe and Mail notes, a BHP pullout from
Canpotex, "could have negative implications for smaller or higher-cost
potash companies in Canada and possibly for the Saskatchewan government,
which makes sizable royalties from the potash business."
"The Investment Canada Act allows the federal government to
reject foreign takeovers of Canadian companies should they appear not to
provide a 'net benefit' to Canada. The USW is also asking for a public
hearing process, including the involvement of workers and their union as
key stakeholders in the industry," emphasized Neumann.
In a letter to BHP CEO Marius Kloppers, Hunt and Neumann ask: "What new
investments will BHP make that Potash Corp isn't making now? What
guarantees of current and future jobs do they offer? What improvements
to workers' health and safety or economic well-being will the takeover
bring? What increase in revenues or other benefits would flow to the
people of Saskatchewan?"
Hunt noted that people in Saskatchewan take the potash sector very
seriously: "It's not so long ago that the Potash Corporation was a
Crown corporation owned by the people of the province and providing
billions of dollars in revenues to the people. People believe - and
they should believe - that the resource belongs to them and that it
should continue to provide benefits and opportunities for future
The union is also urging the Saskatchewan government to "stand up for
Saskatchewan" by demanding that BHP make clear what benefits it offers
the province and ensure that any deal provides full benefits to the
people of Saskatchewan.
"It's not so long ago that the Government of Saskatchewan took over the
potash sector because companies refused to pay a fair share of mineral
royalties," Hunt observes
"For over a decade the federal government has failed to stand up of
Canada when our resources and industries have been bought by foreign
multinationals -- from Inco to Stelco. The harm to our communities has
been devastating," added Hunt.
"It's time our government protects Canadian interests and Canadian
communities. They need to uphold the powers of the Investment Canada
Act, and make the process and agreements fair and transparent," said
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: For further information:
|Contacts: ||Ken Neumann, 416-544-5950,|
| ||Steve Hunt, 604-683-1117|
| ||Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org.|