Speculation is rampant this week that Tito Botelho Martins is the man most likely to become the next chief executive officer of Vale. Martins, currently executive director for Base Metals for Vale and CEO for Vale Canada, works out of Toronto for the Brazil-based Vale.
A Brazilian n ews p a p e r was quoting two sources Wednesday who said Martins, 47, has a good chance of being named to the top job that has been held for years by Roger Agnelli. Cory McPhee, Vale Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs, would only offer a no-comment Wednesday about the rumour.
“We are not commenting on the speculation around executive moves,” McPhee said in an e-mail to The Sudbury Star. Two high-ranking officials with United Steelworkers in Canada have been following the news about Martins with interest.
Ken Neumann is USW’s national director for Canada. If Martins does head up the giant Brazilian miner, it is an opportunity for him to “totally and completely” change the way the company does business with its unions in Canada, said Neumann.
Vale has been “massively profitable,” said Neumann, and Martins is familiar with Vale’s operations in Sudbury and in Thompson, Manitoba.
The USW local for Thompson’s Vale workers is gearing up for contract talks with Vale in September.
“This is an opportunity for Martins to put the ship on the right course,” said Neumann.
Vale experienced two lengthy strikes in Canada in recent years — the one-year strike by 3,000 workers in Ontario that ran from July 2009 to July 2010, and a 15-month strike at Vale’s Voisey’s Bay operations in Newfoundland and Labrador that ended recently.
Wayne Fraser is director of USW District 6, which covers Ontario and the Maritimes, where the two strikes were waged.
“We weren’t too impressed with Agnelli,” Fraser said Wednesday afternoon.
“We thought that he stood back and watched the destruction of what happened here in Canada, the thousands of workers and their families.”
There was some thought that Martins was “guiding that strike,” said Fraser. But if he ends up in the top job with the giant miner, perhaps he will have a change of heart.
“They need to respect and operate differently, respect the laws, respect the people and operate differently in different countries.”
Fraser speculated that Agnelli was “thrown out because of a lot of pressure from the Brazilian government.”
Brazil “got a black eye from what they were doing here in Canada and around the world so if that type of pressure created the fall of Agnelli then hopefully there’s enough pressure on a new CEO, if it’s Tito, to act a little bit more with respect,” said Fraser.
Sudbury New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault met Martins in his Toronto office before the July 2009 strike by USW Local 6500 in Sudbury and Local 6200 in Port Colborne.
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