261 Vale Inco Sudbury Jobs Cut Locally, 900 Worldwide – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

Two hundred sixty one of the 900 job cuts announced at Vale Inco Mar. 3 are in Sudbury. The rest are at the company’s operations worldwide.

The workforce reductions are mostly focused on corporate, management and business support operations, according to a Vale Inco press release. Vale Inco employs 14,000 people worldwide.

“We are cutting jobs across the board, but none in our production operations in Greater Sudbury,” said Cory McPhee, manager of corporate communications for Vale Inco.

Sixty-five members of Steelworkers 2020 office and technical workers are affected by the cuts, said McPhee. Local 6500 members are not impacted by the announcement, he said.

More cuts are happening outside Greater Sudbury than in the local operations, noted McPhee.

Affected employees are in the process of being notified. McPhee would not comment on how the layoffs list are being devised.

“Employees are being talked to today, but 25 per cent are pension eligible. So they could leave today and go on pension tomorrow,” said McPhee. Severance packages are being prepared for those laid off based on years of service.

“We will treat our employees properly,” he added.

“Unfortunately the tough decisions announced today are necessary in these exceptional times,” said Tito Martins, Vale Inco CEO and president, in a release.

Nickel prices are at a low ebb, dropping to $4.25 a pound Tuesday.

But the real problem continues to be high inventories of nickel, said McPhee.

“The market is depressed. In late December we announced production cuts, but the market conditions we are seeing are unprecedented.”

The company has increased its Canadian workforce substantially, up 16 per cent, or 1,057 people from October 2006.

Employment at its Toronto head office was up by 40 per cent or 100 persons from the same period. Employment at Vale Inco Technology Centre in Mississauga is up by 59 per cent from Oct.

Nickel Belt MPP Claude Gravelle said his office staff in Chelmsford are standing by to help any laid off workers with their needs.

Gravelle said the city needs infrastructure money now more than ever, after being notified of the layoffs.

“The mining sector needs help just like forestry. Getting this stimulus funding to cities like Greater Sudbury will help stimulate demand for nickel. Nickel is used in sinks, fridges, bridges and buildings. The more infrastructure funding there is the sooner will nickel prices pick up and inventories drop to more reasonable levels,” said Gravelle.