Tony Van Alphen is a Business Reporter for the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published on Saturday, December 19, 2009.
Workers’ mettle gets test as Vale Inco strike drags into bitter northern winter , It’s a war zone here. Their tactics are designed to provoke us like never before. They’re not interested in getting back to bargaining.
SUDBURY–Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is blasting from a satellite radio in the tent’s makeshift living room.
A couple of plush La-Z-Boy rockers and a couch surround a blazing wood stove. The fresh Christmas tree in the corner gives the place a cozy holiday feeling.
Three hearty men in heavy overcoats and toques hover around the stove, slap their gloves and exchange brotherly greetings. The song ends and they step outside into another world.
There’s not a lot of love or warmth there. They’re on the picket line just after sunrise a few days before Christmas at Vale Inco’s Clarabelle Mill.
It’s a flashpoint in the five-month standoff between some 3,100 workers and one of the world’s biggest mining companies.
The workers face a bitter wind, -20C temperatures and a company spending millions of dollars to keep them in line. Strikers walk the line and delay trucks and cars for 12 to 15 minutes before allowing them through to the sprawling mill up the road. Then, they walk some more.