[Xstrata Nickel] Mine Mill votes to strike – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Star – January 17, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Members of the Canadian Auto Workers Mine Mill Local 598, which represents about 900 Xstrata Nickel miners in Sudbury, voted 96% in favour of a strike mandate if a new contract is not negotiated by Jan. 31.

The union members were also 100% in favour of re-opening their personal strike funds in the event they need to subsidize strike pay. The strike vote was held Wednesday during three meetings of union members.

Richard Paquin, Local 598’s president, said the union’s intent is not to go on strike, but to negotiate a deal before the Jan. 31 deadline. He said the strike mandate will give union negotiators more bargaining power during contract talks.

“We’re optimistic we can get a new contract,” Paquin said. “We have the last three tentative agreements that we did with them, so we’re confident we can do it again.”

Xstrata Nickel’s Sudbury operations consist of the Nickel Rim South Mine, Fraser Mine, a mill and a smelter. Nickel and copper are the primary metals produced in Sudbury, but cobalt and precious metals, such as platinum, are also mined.

Paquin did not disclose details about ongoing negotiations, but did say the two sides have discussed language issues with Xstrata, but have yet to tackle monetary issues.

Both sides have been bargaining since Dec. 14.

Local 598 has not gone on strike since Falconbridge was bought by Xstrata in 2006, but did go on work action in 2000 — for more than six months — and again in 2004, for three weeks.

The current contract has been in place for three years.

For the original version of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/01/16/mine-mill-votes-to-strike-talks-continue