Strike at Fer et Titane in Havre-St-Pierre - No to a Defined Contribution Plan, Yes to Worker Solidarity

    MONTREAL, Aug. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - The 220 members of the United
Steelworkers Union / Syndicat des Métallos Local 4466 have voted 100% in
favour of strike action. The workers, who are employed at the QIT Fer & Titane
mining company in Havre-Saint-Pierre, will be on strike as of midnight
tonight. Their slogan is "Il ne faut pas C.D., il faut s'aider!" ("We don't
need a defined contribution plan; we need to help each other!"). "It's very
clear what is at stake in these negotiations," said Steeve Arsenault,
President of Local 4466 of the Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ). "Our members
refuse to agree with Rio Tinto's demand that they trade their defined pension
plan for a defined contribution plan. Our members are wearing their slogan on
their shirts in order to get across to the employer how important it is to
maintain and improve the defined pension plan," he added.
    The company is refusing to change its decision to impose a defined
contribution plan on new workers. Meanwhile, the members of Local 4466 voted
unanimously at their August 22-23 annual general meeting that their
negotiating priority for 2007 was to improve the current defined pension plan.

    Our Pension Plan is Our Treasure

    Steeve Arsenault noted that "Our pension plan is one of the best in
Quebec. It's our treasure. Our predecessors fought for it, going on strike for
three months in 1966 - and the plan was agreed to during negotiations for the
1969 collective agreement. We are determined that the sacrifice of those who
came before us will not go in vain, and that their efforts will benefit future
generations. We are also fighting for those future generations. We want our
children to be able to benefit from the advantages of a good retirement."
    The union's negotiating committee accepted to not increase the retirement
plan until 2009 - which would help the employer pay its debt. "Even if it
launches a defined contribution plan, the employer will continue to meet its
obligations under the existing plan. Once again, workers are up against the
bad faith of Rio Tinto's shareholders, and a whole community will suffer the
consequences," said Réal Valiquette, North Shore regional coordinator for the
Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ).
    Besides the pension plan, other issues on the table include salary
increases, the seven-year duration required by the employer, and several
clauses that are non-monetary in nature.
    The Havre-Saint-Pierre ilmenite mine has been operating since 1950.

For further information:

For further information: Réal Valiquette, Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ), 
(418) 962-2041; Steeve Arsenault, Syndicat des Métallos, Local 4466 (FTQ),
(418) 538-2772

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