Steelworkers say no to students displacing workers



    THOMPSON, MB, June 12 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166
opposes Vale Inco's plan to use summer students to displace its refinery
workers and expose these students to a high risk of injury or illness.
    The decision was explained to the union as necessary because of a labour
shortage and an overwhelming number of injuries in the refinery. Along with
upcoming vacations, keeping production at current levels is said to be
unachievable.
    The union leadership is absolutely opposed to the plan, because it
contradicts a letter of agreement in the current contract as well as the
Workplace Safety and Health Act and the joint company/union Safe Production
Charter.
    The unilateral plan to use students this way goes against a history of
collaboration over the last decade, including when the union helped lobby the
government for new-mine status for the Birchtree Mine Deepening. Without this
intervention from the union, the company would not be in the place it is today
making record production and profits.
    The injury record in the refinery is on average double that of the rest
of the plant site. It was recognized in 2007 by the Director of the Mines
Branch of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines as "a problem
area requiring focus on protecting the workers".
    The 50-year-old facility has been injuring workers for a long time and
the union feels that little has been done to correct the problem. Now, with
workers absent due to injury, the company's solution is to expose summer
students, who lack the experience or skills, to unnecessary risk in a
production role.
    USW members participate in the provincial Safe Workers of Tomorrow
program to educate young workers about health and safety and their rights
under the law.
    The summer student issue is occurring as Local 6166 prepares for new
contract talks with Vale-Inco. The current agreement, negotiated before the
2006 change in company ownership, expires at midnight on Sept. 15.





For further information:

For further information: Les Ellsworth (President, Local 6166), (204)
677-1700 or (204) 679-0071; Roy Leslie (USW Representative), (604) 999-4752


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