Union president braces for Vale cutbacks in 2018
After a rollercoaster year full of uncertainty and surprise announcements, Vale ended 2017 with more than 100 fewer jobs than it started the year with, which brings their total workforce in Thompson down to approximately 1,180 people.
Even though these job loses were announced well in advance, it doesn’t change the fact that the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166, the union these affected employees were members of, is definitely going to feel the squeeze in 2018.
Vale Manitoba Operations plans on permanently closing down their smelter and refinery in the third quarter of the year, which will reduce their total workforce to around 837 people.
Coupled with low nickel prices, the suspension of operations at the Birchtree Mine, and a 20 per cent drop in Vale’s grant-in-lieu to the city and the school district, USW Local 6166 president Les Ellsworth told the Thompson Citizen that they are going to be facing unprecedented challenges over the next 12 months.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult times in our history,” said Ellsworth. “Myself personally, I’ve been around 33 years with Vale and the former Inco, so I’ve seen reductions, I’ve seen layoffs over the years, but nothing to this degree.”
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