Archive | Mining Labour Issues and History – Sudbury and Global

One day longer 10 years later – by Darren MacDonald (Sudbury Northern Life – July 22, 2019)

https://www.sudbury.com/

In July, 2009, more than 3,000 Steelworkers walked off the job in Sudbury after failing to strike a deal with Inco’s new owner, the Brazilian mining giant Vale. A decade later, we look back at how it all started and what it all meant

In the months leading to the strike at Vale in 2009, a major confrontation seemed both impossible and inevitable. There was talk almost immediately in the mining industry that, having purchased Inco in 2006, the only way the deal made sense for the Brazilian multinational was to undo the benefits package the Steelworkers had fought for in collective bargaining that ensured retirees a guaranteed income.

Defined benefits, as it was known, protected workers from inflation, from the ups and downs of markets. The nickel bonus, too, which saw workers paid more when nickel prices were high, was also a major obstacle in Vale’s view of things, as were restrictions on using contractors. For the company, these sorts of benefits represented unacceptable long-term costs and risks that threatened the viability of their Canadian purchase.

Anyone who has ever been in a union can tell you that heading into negotiations for a new contract, improvements are the goal, and concessions are the red line that can’t be crossed. For a union such as the United Steelworkers of America, headed by Sudbury’s own Leo Gerard, such concessions were unthinkable. Continue Reading →

[Falconbridge] ‘I thought the smelter had blown up’ – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 21, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Electrician Gary Hrytsak was taking a brief nap during a coffee break at the Falconbridge smelter complex about 10:05 a.m. June 20, 1984, when he got thrown off the bench he was on.

“It was an eerie feeling,” recalled the now-retired Hrytsak during his speech at the 35th Workers’ Memorial Day ceremonies at the Caruso Club on Thursday. “You could feel things shaking under your feet … I thought the smelter had blown up.”

Hrytsak, who went on to do compensation, health and welfare work for his union (Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Local 598), said he put on his respirator, went to the electrical shop and telephoned his foreman, only to be told to stay where he was. Continue Reading →

New play explores Sudbury’s labour strife – by Mia Jensen (Sudbury Star – June 20, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Conversations around a kitchen table are a common experience, but playwright Rick Duthie believes that in Sudbury, something has been missing from the discussion.

Duthie’s new play, One Day Stronger, explores Sudbury’s labour history from the perspective of Laurie, anchored to her kitchen table, who relives her childhood memories from the 1958 Inco strike to her present, at the end of the 1978 Inco strike.

With more than 20,000 people on strike in a city of just 75,000, the post-war Inco strikes were a time of tension, disunity, and emotional exhaustion. Duthie’s play explores these events from the intimate perspective of a family, and a girl at two different points in her life. Continue Reading →

After rubbing shoulders with U.S. presidents, Sudbury’s Leo Gerard coming home for retirement – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Northern Ontario Business – June 12, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Veteran USW boss speaks of growing up in Lively, his long career (including dancing with Michelle Obama) and his lasting impressions of a historic strike in Sudbury

After a career in which he rubbed shoulders with world leaders – including U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama – Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard said he’s retiring to his hometown of Sudbury. He said he still has a home and a camp here, despite working out of Pittsburgh.

“My kids and my grandkids are getting old,” said Gerard in a recent interview with Sudbury.com following the announcement last month he’s retiring as of mid-July. “I’ve got a camp on Nepewassi. I didn’t put my boat in for three years.”

The 72-year-old Gerard, who’s served the Steelworkers for more than 50 years, has been the Steelworkers International president since 2001. His successor is Tom Conway, who has served alongside Gerard as Steelworkers International vice-president. Continue Reading →

From mine tech to workplace culture – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – April 18, 2018)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

20th annual Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety Conference draws sold-out crowd

The 20th annual Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety Conference has been selling out every year, a signal that the industry is taking the subject seriously.

That was the case, again, at the 2018 instalment on April 17 and 18 at the Holiday Inn in Sudbury, with around 300 delegates packing the conference rooms to take part in conversations ranging from technology to mental health and improving leadership.

Mike Parent, director of mining at Workplace Safety North, said he was very pleased with the interest and large crowds. Continue Reading →

Ontario Mine Rescue gathers some history in Elliot Lake – by Kevin McSheffrey (Elliot Lake Standard – January 17, 2018)

http://www.elliotlakestandard.ca/

With 2019 being the 90th anniversary of Ontario Mine Rescue, two members of the organization were in Elliot Lake recently to gather some of its history in preparation for next year’s event.

Ted Hanley, Ontario Mine Rescue general manager at its head office in Sudbury, and a student researcher Justin Konrad, were scanning and photographing many of the exhibits in Elliot Lake’s Mine Rescue Collection at the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum on Jan. 10.

Ken Pierce, Elliot Lake’s local historian and the former regional mine rescue instructor based in the community when the mines were operating, was assisting them. Hanley says he first came to the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum two years ago and viewed the Mine Rescue Collection, on Pierce’s invitation. Continue Reading →

Ontario funds health and safety research in Sudbury – by Staff (Sudbury Star – January 18, 2018)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health will receive more than $300,000 in new research funding from the Ontario government. Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault, who is also Ontario’s minister of Energy, made the announcement at the CROSH lab Tuesday.

“Addressing high hazards associated with the operation of mobile equipment was a priority identified in the 2015 Mining Health Safety and Prevention review,” Thibeault said in a release. “Furthermore, addressing indigenous workplace issues will begin a conversation about what is needed to improve occupational health and safety of Indigenous peoples in the workplace.”

In all, Ontario is awarding $310,000 to support innovative research projects and top talent. The funding will assist CROSH researchers as they carry out three projects aimed at addressing mobile equipment hazards, advancing Indigenous occupational health and safety in Northern Ontario, and improving safety for people who work around heavy equipment. Continue Reading →

Marikana: death and fear still stalk platinum belt – by Theto Mahlakoana (Business Day – September 27, 2017)

https://www.businesslive.co.za/

The eyes of SA and the world have turned away from the platinum belt, returning there only when the Marikana massacre is commemorated every August. Yet mine workers there are being continually snuffed out.

Union leaders, fathers, sons and brothers are being gunned down by unknown assailants for reasons that may never surface. Law enforcement authorities have not paid special attention to the region to solve the crimes, despite several pleas by civil society and political formations.

In the past two weeks, the bodies of four regional leaders of the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu) were found riddled with bullets at the Lonmin and Impala mines. Continue Reading →

Psychology of mine safety – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – September 22, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Director of mining, Ontario Operations, Vale Canada Limited delivers controversial presentation on reality of zero harm policies in mining industry

His presentation started with a disclaimer that his views may not represent those of Vale Canada Limited, even joking he may not work for them after what he had to say about zero harm policies in the mining industry.

Alistair Ross, director of mining, Ontario Operations, delivered a comprehensive presentation at the first general membership meeting of 2017 of the Canadian Institute of Mining on Sept. 21 to a packed house at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.

It focused on the policies that are meant to eliminate injuries and deaths in mining workplaces actually end up becoming harmful policies by adding too much structure and setting impossible goals. Continue Reading →

Miner who triggered McIntyre Powder study dies – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 30, 2017)

http://www.timminspress.com/

ELLIOT LAKE – A retired miner whose deteriorating health triggered a campaign to investigate the residual effects of McIntyre Powder has died. Jim Hobbs passed away May 24 at the Espanola Nursing Home at the age of 76.

His daughter Janice Martell began an effort to link neurological diseases in former gold and uranium miners to the aluminum dust they were forced inhale by their employers after her father developed Parkinson’s disease.

Hobbs worked at the Quirke II uranium mine in Elliot Lake where the powder was used extensively. Martell’s inability to get workers’ compensation for her father prompted her in 2014 to start up the McIntyre Powder Project, which is a research initiative. Continue Reading →

Mine health, safety icons mourned – Staff (Sudbury Star – May 30, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Two men connected to the fight for better health and safety in Ontario’s mines are being remembered today.

France Gélinas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt, stood up in the provincial legislature on Monday to pay tribute to Jean Gagnon, who helped hundreds of fellow Sudbury miners and their survivors battle for compensation benefits, while advocating for the health and safety of workers and victims of industrial disease.

Gagnon died May 1 in Sturgeon Falls. He was 90.

“Jean dedicated over 60 years of his life fighting for health and safety and compensation for his fellow sintering plant workers and their families, all victims of an industrial disease that was only recognized because of his persistence and his determination,” Gelinas told the legislature. Continue Reading →

South Africa: 1 700 Workers Start Strike 2.4km Below Harmony Mine (All Africa – January 12, 2017)

http://allafrica.com/

About 1 700 miners refused to return to the surface of Harmony Gold’s [JSE:HAR] Kusasalethu mine in the West Rand on Wednesday, with the miner saying they have embarked on an illegal sit-in.

“Harmony Gold confirms that around 1 700 employees are participating in an illegal sit-in at the company’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville,” the company said in a statement.

“The sit-in started on Wednesday, January 11 when employees chose not to return to surface at the end of the morning shift. “No formal demands have been made by the participating employees. Continue Reading →

Ontario Labour minister touts mining changes – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – January 13, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Ontario launched a mining health and safety review in the wake of tragedy, but provincial labour minister Kevin Flynn had a good-news story to tell during his stop in Sudbury on Thursday. Flynn visited the Nickel City to mark the implementation of new requirements to improve health and safety of workers in mines, which became effective on Jan. 1.

“Today was really an announcement of what we have been able to accomplish so far and we’re seeing the fruits of what was done in the mining review a few years back, when everybody had a sense of optimism, like ‘It looks like we’ve done a good job here; let’s start implementing the recommendations,’ ” Flynn, the MPP for Oakville, said on Thursday afternoon, shortly before speaking at a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunch.

New requirements the minister highlighted on Thursday include: Continue Reading →

Labour honours Sudbury heroes – by Carol Mulligan(Sudbury Star – September 3, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Two Sudbury labour heroes have been inducted into the 2016 Ontario Federation of Labour Honour Roll, just in time for Labour Day. Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP France Gelinas announced the names of the inductees this week, commending both men for their efforts to improve the lives of working people.

Homer Seguin, who died in April 2013 at 79, continues to be a legend in the labour movement, said Gelinas. “So many sick and injured workers, as well as their spouses and families, were able to get compensation because of his activism.

“Every workplace in Ontario is safer because of Mr. Seguin, I miss him very much,” said Gelinas. Seguin was a former president of United Steelworkers Local 6500 and long-time staff representative with United Steelworkers. He is well known for his work to better working conditions for people in Elliot Lake’s uranium mines. Continue Reading →

Miners recall use of black powder during employment – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – July 12, 2016)

http://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Danny Hway vividly remembers the impact McIntyre Powder had on his father, Nicholas, who worked at Timmins’ McIntyre Mine for 47 years. At home, his dad wouldn’t speak of it, but he didn’t need to. His grim appearance at the end of every shift did the talking for him.

“He’d come home and his hands were black all the time, and any exposed skin was black,” Danny recalled. “He’d be coughing all the time and, blowing his nose, it was black all the time. He didn’t really want to talk about it — (that’s) life, right?”

Nicholas was one of thousands of miners across the North who were required to inhale the finely ground aluminum dust as a condition of their employment. But for him the stakes were higher than for most: preparing the powder for dissemination was his job. Continue Reading →