BELLEDUNE, NB, May 21, 2019 /CNW/ - The corporate leadership of resource giant Glencore must demonstrate the sincerity of the goodwill it recently expressed towards its New Brunswick employees, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.
"When Brunswick Smelter workers came to the Glencore shareholders' meeting in Switzerland, corporate representatives assured them that they are committed to progressive labour relations and a safe workplace," said Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.
"However, the Brunswick Smelter workers have now been locked out of their jobs for four weeks and they are still waiting for the corporation to demonstrate this commitment," Warren said.
Management at the Brunswick Smelter locked out 280 workers, members of USW Local 7085, on April 24, upending negotiations for a new collective agreement.
Locked-out Steelworkers attended Glencore's annual general meeting on May 9 in Switzerland, where they also met with corporate representatives and outlined serious concerns regarding health and safety, working conditions and management demands for concessions.
The union representatives met with Peter Coates, Chairman of Glencore's Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Committee; Charles Watenphul, Head of Corporate Communications; Anna Krutikov, Head of Sustainable Development; and Gerda Schwindt, Group Head of Human Resources.
The Steelworkers said they were well-received by the Glencore executives, who pledged to get back to the union. However, the USW has not heard back from Glencore and the corporate goodwill has not filtered down to management at the Brunswick Smelter.
"Management at the smelter continues to wield Glencore's global power as a cudgel to try to weaken workers' health and safety, working standards and labour rights," Warren said.
"It is very telling that Glencore's New Brunswick management is trying so aggressively to inflict these concessions on its employees, while Glencore takes a much more progressive approach with its workers elsewhere in Canada," Warren noted.
"Why do the workers in New Brunswick not deserve the same health and safety standards, union representation and working conditions as Glencore's other Canadian employees?"
Among other concessions, the smelter's management wants to eliminate a full-time workers' health and safety representative – established nearly 30 years ago – that the union says is critical in helping to protect workers.
"At a time when corporations all over the world are pledging to improve health and safety prevention and protections, Glencore's New Brunswick management wants to turn back the clock to the previous century," Warren said.
"Management wants to downgrade this critical position and actually give itself the sole power to determine when the workers' elected, union representative is allowed to represent workers in the plant," he said.
The USW and IndustriALL Global Union, the Switzerland-based labour federation representing over 50 million workers worldwide, are calling on Glencore to end the lockout in New Brunswick and resume negotiations.
"It's up to Glencore's corporate leadership to make it clear that its employees in New Brunswick should have the same rights, protections and working conditions as its other Canadian workers," Warren said.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792; Lawrence McKay, USW Area Co-ordinator, Atlantic Canada, 506-857-0999, 506-232-8472, email@example.com; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org