The higher nickel prices of late bode well for the local economy, as bonuses paid to miners typically spill into the community. “That money is spent buying a new dishwasher, or renovating a little area in your home,” said Kevin Boyd, vice-president of Steelworkers Local 6500, which represents about 2,500 workers at Vale.
“When you have that many families getting a couple thousand bucks, or whatever it is, that’s good for local business, absolutely.” A perk also goes to the roughly 800 workers at Glencore, represented by Unifor, when the market is strong.
Earlier this month, the commodity soared to the highest it’s been in a decade, due to a shortage in supply and a surge in sales of electric vehicles. While it has sagged a bit since, nickel was still trading at more than $10 per pound as of Monday.
When that happens, miners pocket some extra cash, although Boyd noted the bonus for Vale workers is not as generous as it was in the past. “After the strike in 2009, there was a cap put on it,” he said. “You get a certain amount per hour for every hour worked, but only to a maximum of 25 per cent of your hourly wage.”
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