TORONTO, April 28, 2017 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) has launched a global campaign targeting Glencore and Noranda Income Fund in an effort to resolve a 2½-month strike at the CEZinc refinery near Montreal.
Steelworkers Quebec Director Alain Croteau made the announcement this morning at a demonstration by hundreds of workers outside the Toronto Stock Exchange, where Noranda Income Fund shareholders were attending their annual general meeting. Glencore is a major shareholder of Noranda Income Fund.
"These striking workers came to Toronto to make themselves heard by Noranda Income Fund shareholders. And we're ready to travel all the way to Switzerland to get the attention of Glencore's shareholders," Croteau said.
"We also will be collaborating with unions representing Glencore workers around the world. This company needs to respect the workers on whose backs it built its wealth," Croteau told demonstrators, many of whom travelled through the previous night from Montreal.
The 371 members of USW Local 6486 at the CEZinc refinery have been on strike since Feb. 12 to resist the company's demands for concessions, particularly an attack on their pension plan – even though the plan is overfunded. The workers also have denounced the company for rejecting their proposals to explore cost-cutting and efficiency options. CEZinc is owned by Noranda Income Fund, of which Glencore is a 25% shareholder.
Steelworkers Local 6486 President Manon Castonguay attended today's Noranda shareholders' meeting with a power of attorney given to her by a shareholder.
"The shareholders and the striking workers have common interests. Shareholders purchased shares with the promise of receiving dividends, but these have been suspended since January, until further notice. As for us, we're foregoing our wages to defend our working conditions and retirement security," Castonguay said.
"We understand the desire to save money. We're even ready to help find solutions, but Noranda's directors have turned a deaf ear to us. The shareholders need to add their voices to ours to press the Board of Directors to resume negotiations with an open mind," she said.
Prior to entering the shareholders' meeting, Castonguay praised the striking workers for their solidarity and commitment to stand up for young workers.
"We will not back down. We are determined not to sacrifice our members' pension plan and the well-being of generations to come. Together we can restart this plant and generate significant profits again. But we won't drop to our knees to make that happen. We say, 'hands off our pensions!' "
Steelworkers Ontario Director Marty Warren welcomed the striking workers from Quebec and the launch of the global campaign targeting Glencore and Noranda.
"Our union has the strength and the capacity to deal head-on with multinational corporations," Warren told the Quebec workers. "We will stand by your side throughout this battle."
Members of the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council (STAC) attended today's demonstration and joined the call for Noranda to end its attack on workers' pensions.
"You are right to fight this battle," STAC President Carolyn Egan told the Quebec strikers. "Our strongest asset as workers and union members is our solidarity. Stay strong and you will succeed."
Following the rally, the demonstrators attended the National Day of Mourning ceremonies for workers killed on the job, held at Larry Sefton Park in downtown Toronto.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)