SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, QC, Oct. 3, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - After nearly eight months on the picket line, striking CEZinc employees have overwhelmingly rejected a "final" contract offer from the company.
"Eight months into the strike, Noranda Income Fund offered its employees more or less the same contract that provoked the strike in the first place," said Luc Julien, a staff representative with the United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, after union members voted Monday by a 97 % majority to reject the contract offer.
"Our members have sent a clear message to the Fund's board of directors – its offer was unacceptable in February and it is no more acceptable after eight months on the picket line," Julien said.
"If Noranda Income Fund management had doubts about the position and mandate of the union's negotiation committee, those doubts have been answered. Our members are not backing down. They are standing up to this employer and they have reaffirmed the mandate they have given to their negotiating committee."
The zinc refinery, west of Montreal, is operated by Noranda Income Fund, of which resource giant Glencore is the largest shareholder.
Julien said he is astounded that the company has done so little to try to resolve the labour dispute.
"We have offered revised proposals and alternatives to seek common ground and achieve a resolution, but management simply comes back with the same old thing. It's frustrating," he said.
"Noranda Income Fund's board of directors and Glencore officials must get involved and put some pressure on these managers to change their approach. Our members remain as serious and committed as they were eight months ago when they began this strike. Glencore and the Noranda Income Fund board should ensure that their negotiators are serious about reaching a settlement."
The 371 unionized workers at the CEZinc refinery have been on strike since Feb. 12 to defend their working conditions and pension plan. The company demanded pension concessions even though the plan is over-funded.
The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.
PLEASE NOTE: A union spokesperson will be available for phone interviews today from noon to 12:30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Clairandrée Cauchy, 514-774-4001, [email protected]