Thousands Send Individual Protests to Vale for Provoking Canadian Strike

TORONTO, Dec. 23 /CNW/ - One of the most-successful campaigns of its kind has wrapped up, with thousands of protest messages from around the world sent to mining giant Vale for provoking a strike by 3,500 Canadian mine workers.

More than 8,000 individual protest messages have been sent directly to Roger Agnelli, CEO of Brazil-based Vale, in an online campaign launched last month by LabourStart, the international trade union news service.

"Trade union activists and supporters around the globe joined this innovative campaign in unprecedented numbers to support Canadian workers under attack by a foreign, multinational mining giant," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers' (USW) National Director for Canada.

"The USW and its striking members in Canada are extremely grateful for the support and solidarity they have received from LabourStart and the participants in this very successful campaign," Neumann said.

"It has been heartening to see thousands of people speak out, within such a brief timeframe," he said.

"Working people everywhere recognize it is unacceptable, arrogant and callous for a highly profitable foreign corporation to try to impose drastic concessions on workers and their communities, while removing greater amounts of wealth from those communities."

Canadian mine workers have been on strike against Vale Inco since mid-July, after rejecting the company's demand for massive concessions in pensions, profit-sharing bonuses and workplace and seniority rights. About 3,500 workers are on strike in Sudbury, Port Colborne, Ont., and Voisey's Bay, NL.

Vale Inco is demanding huge concessions from its Canadian workers even though the workers generated a record US $4.1 billion in profits from 2006 to 2008. Worldwide, Vale earned a record US $13.2-billion profit in 2008 and it remains highly profitable despite a global recession.

Though they are attempting to impose huge concessions on Canadian workers, Vale's top executives have had pay increases of 121 per cent in the last two years.

Through the LabourStart online campaign, thousands sent e-mail messages protesting Vale's labour relations strategy, which includes hiring scabs to try to divide workers and communities.

"I am deeply concerned about how global mining company Vale is treating workers," stated a standard message sent to Vale. "Vale should quit trying to divide unions and communities."

The online campaign spread to Twitter this month, generating one of the largest petitions on the social networking service.

"Until Vale agrees to negotiate a fair deal with its Canadian workers and their communities, the USW and our allies will continue our domestic and international solidarity campaigns against this company's attacks on working families," said Neumann.

The USW has a standing offer to Vale Inco to resume meaningful, good-faith negotiations, without either side attaching pre-conditions to a return to the bargaining table.

For daily updates on the USW's strike against Vale Inco, visit: FairDealNow.ca.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, (416) 487-1571; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 434-2221, (416) 544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca


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