Workers at Madagascar Ambatovy nickel mine consider strike over jobs – by Lovasoa Rabary (Reuters U.S. – June 8, 2015)

ANTANANARIVO – Workers at Sherritt International Corp’s Ambatovy nickel project in Madagascar are considering strike action over possible job cuts, a trade union official said on Monday.

The crisis at one of Madagascar’s biggest foreign investment projects comes as the poor but mineral-rich Indian Ocean state faces a political crisis after its parliament moved to sack President Hery Rajaonarimampianina late last month.

Rajaonarimampianina’s peaceful election victory in late 2013, the first vote since a 2009 military coup, was seen as a chance for stability after years of post-coup isolation.

“We could go up on strike, but we have to be careful before deciding to move in this direction,” said Richard Rakotovao, the head of union’s legal department, saying workers were concerned about a wave of job cuts.

But he added: “We fear that Ambatovy could decide to leave Madagascar, saying that there have been too many strikes here.”¬†Representatives at Ambatovy and Sherritt, which is headquartered in Toronto and holds a 40 percent interest in the Ambatovy venture, had no immediate comment.

Workers at the mine, located 80 km east of the capital Antananarivo, went on strike earlier this year. Sherritt was still able to achieve its target production rate ahead of schedule and in April reported an 11 percent rise in quarterly revenue as it ramped up production.

Since taking office last year, Rajaonarimampianina has been under pressure over his handling of the economy and public services and critics say he has failed to deliver his promises.

Last month, parliament approved an impeachment bill against him. The constitutional court must determine if he can be sacked.

In a radio and television broadcast, Rajaonarimampianina said the country needed stability and questioned the vote count, saying: “I’m still there. I’m still standing.”

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