Xstrata, Mine Mill brace for possible job action – by Star staff (Sudbury Star – January 26, 2013)

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

It’s the yin-yang of contract negotiations. As bargaining committee members for Mine Mill Local 598/CAW and Xstrata Nickel met Friday to forge a new collective agreement, preparations were going on — on both sides — should those talks fail.

Residents of Falconbridge, where Xstrata Nickel’s Sudbury operations are headquartered, received letters in the mail from the union, asking for their “support, co-operation and patience should it be necessary.” The deadline for the current three-year contract between the miner and its union is Jan. 31. Local 598 has a 96% strike mandate from members should it need it at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 1.

Since talks began in December, both sides have said they have hopes of settling a new three-year deal. But in labour negotiations, it’s customary for both sides to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Anne Marie MacInnis, vice-president of Mine Mill 598/CAW, is strike co-ordinator for the local. She was awaiting delivery Friday afternoon of a 10-by 44-foot strike trailer to be placed on city property in front of Xstrata Nickel’s operations.

Schedules for picket duty were also being drafted, arrangements were being made to set up accounts to purchase food and gasoline, and other strike-related actions were being planned.

The union had 250 letters placed in the mailboxes of Falconbridge residents this week.

In the letter, MacInnis said the talk in Falconbridge and neighbouring Garson, where she lives, is that if the union doesn’t accept Xstrata Nickel’s offer, the company intends to have “replacement staff on-site and they will be given a living trailer with full living accommodations on the smelter property.”

Phone calls and emails to Xstrata Nickel about MacInnis’s claims were not returned Friday. Former company owner, Falconbridge Ltd., did operate with replacement workers during an acrimonious labour dispute from August 2000 to February 2001.

Richard Paquin, president of Local 598, said Thursday language issues were resolved and bargaining committees have moved on to the next step, presumably discussions about wages and benefits.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/01/26/xstrata-mine-mill-brace-for-possible-job-action