‘A big hit emotionally for everybody working there,’ says union president
Vale Manitoba Operations hosted a closing ceremony for its smelter and refinery June 9 with workers and others paying tribute to facilities that are almost as old as Thompson itself.
This event took place at the main plant site, and featured a barbecue, children’s activities, speeches from local dignitaries and a tour of the facilities themselves.
While regular production won’t be permanently shut down until July 31, Vale Manitoba Operations manager of corporate affairs Ryan Land thought it was important to put this event together while everything is still up and running, since it gave their family members the chance to get a closer look at the facilities that produced “the world’s best nickel for about 57 years.”
“Of course, it’s a bittersweet occasion,” said Land. “On the one hand we want to acknowledge [our employees’] efforts. On the other hand, we didn’t want to position it as a celebration because it’s obviously a challenging time for our employees and for the community as well.”
Some of the most heartfelt speeches came from the employees themselves. According to United Steelworkers Local 6166 president Warren Luky, some of these speakers were even reduced to tears after recalling the years they dedicated to the local mining community.