Talks Break Off Despite Steelworkers' Repeated Attempts to Settle

Union Proposes Return to Work and Binding Arbitration to End Dispute

TORONTO, March 7 /CNW/ - Mediated discussions between the United Steelworkers and Vale Inco have broken off, despite the Union's repeated and unprecedented attempts to reach a settlement.

"Over 11 consecutive days, our bargaining committee presented several new proposals and made genuine, significant compromises on the key issues," said USW District 6 Director Wayne Fraser.

"This was an all-out effort by our committee to reach a settlement, with the best interests of our members, our community and the company in mind," Fraser said.

"Our committee is frustrated and angry that Vale Inco was not prepared to bring the same spirit of compromise to the table to resolve this labour dispute. Vale did not come close to reciprocating on the many and substantial changes made by the Union."

The mediated talks were called off Sunday afternoon by veteran mediator Kevin Burkett.

"I am disappointed to report that agreement is not possible at this time," Burkett said in a statement to the parties. "I have therefore broken off discussions."

Due to the breakdown in mediated talks, the USW made the unprecedented request to refer all outstanding issues to a binding arbitration panel. The USW proposed that Burkett be appointed as the arbitration panel's chair, with the Union and company each having a representative on the panel.

Vale Inco has adamantly rejected the Union's proposal for an immediate return to work and an arbitrated resolution.

"Our commitment to a fair resolution to this dispute is irrefutable," Fraser said. "It is incumbent on Vale to agree to binding arbitration, to finally demonstrate they also want to reach a fair settlement with their employees and the communities in which they do business."

The Union has scheduled membership meetings Thursday in Sudbury and Friday in Port Colborne to present members with detailed reports on the Union's and the company's positions at this stage.

Members will have the opportunity to vote at these meetings on an offer of settlement presented by the company. This offer falls far short of the union membership's expectations and the USW bargaining committee is unanimously recommending rejection of this sub-standard proposal.

Meetings for members of USW Local 6500 will be held in Sudbury on Thursday, March 11, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., at the Caruso Club on Haig Street.

A meeting for members of USW Local 6200 in Port Colborne will be held Friday, March 12. The meeting's time and location will be announced Tuesday.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: For further information: Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, (416) 243-8792, (416) 577-4045

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