Steelworkers, Fired Worker Vindicated by Another Arbitration Ruling

SUDBURY, ON, Dec. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - The reinstatement of an unjustly fired employee represents another victory for United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6500 in its fight against mining giant Vale's blatant disregard for workers' rights.

Ron Breault is the second USW member to be reinstated to his job following an arbitrator's ruling of unjust dismissal by Vale during a year-long strike that ended in 2010.

The provincial arbitrator's ruling, released today, has reinstated Breault and ordered Vale to compensate him for 19 months of back pay.

"Once again we have been vindicated in our view that Vale overreacted and was wrong to fire these workers during the strike," said Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand.

"It is another of a long list of examples of Vale's blatant disregard for workers' rights, for our laws and for our labour relations traditions and culture," Bertrand said.

Bertrand noted the two arbitration awards won by Local 6500 stem from a landmark ruling earlier this year by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, prompted by Vale's attempt to block the standard grievance and arbitration process for dismissals.

The labour board, citing "troubling" behaviour by Vale, ruled the company engaged in "patently unreasonable" conduct and violated provincial labour law with respect to the fired Sudbury workers.

"This is another victory for our union, for our members and their families who have been adversely affected by Vale's conduct, " Bertrand said.

Meanwhile, the arbitration process is expected to continue into the new year with respect to Vale's firing of four other USW members during the 2009-2010 strike.

"From the outset, after the labour board ruled against Vale's unlawful behaviour, we urged the company to do the right thing and reinstate these workers while the arbitration process ran its course," Bertrand said.

"Instead, Vale opted to continue its pattern of disregard for workers, keeping the affected workers and their families in limbo for more than two years."

In addition to the fired workers' case, Vale's record since it took over Inco Ltd. has included:

  • Provoking unprecedented labour disputes, including the use of replacement workers for the first time in the history of the former Inco;
  • Cutting hundreds of jobs at the former Inco operations;
  • A ruling by the OLRB that Vale committed unfair labor practices by unlawfully denying a union representative access to company workplaces;
  • A finding by a provincial Industrial Inquiry Commission in Newfoundland and Labrador that Vale's "behaviour demonstrates disrespect for the role of a bargaining agent;"
  • Following the deaths of Sudbury miners Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier in 2011, the company refused to co-operate with the union on a joint investigation into the tragedy;
  • A ruling by the OLRB that Vale inappropriately interfered with the union's work by removing members from a union committee investigating the 2011 mining fatalities;
  • Vale has been charged with several violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in connection with the 2011 fatalities.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-675-3381.


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