(Dorothy Kosich, Mineweb.com) As Vale Inco, the world's second-largest nickel miner, restarted partial production Thursday at its Sudbury complex in Canada, the United Steelworkers union filed a grievance against the company.
Cory McPhee, Vale Inco's spokesman, told the news media that the company resumed operations at the Clarabell Mill for an initial 48 hour period to process stockpiled ore.
Most Sudbury operations have been idled since May 1 due to low market demand. A maintenance shutdown then stretched into June and July before the strike was declared. Nearly 3,300 of 4,600 employees at Sudbury walked off the job in mid-July.
The union rejected demand by Vale to cut the local employee bonus system and change the pension plan. Union workers at Vale operations in Port Colborne and Voisey's Bay in Newfoundland have joined Sudbury workers on the picket lines.
Steelworkers Ontario director Wayne Fraser said the union is concerned for the safety of its office, clerical and technical workers, who the union claims are being asked to perform duties outside their expertise.
The union accused Vale Inco of sending the office workers underground to perform the job of striking mine and mill employees.
Fraser said he expects the Ontario Labour Relations Board to hear next week the complaint that the company is violating the Ontario Labour Act by making some steelworkers union members do mining and other jobs.
Salman Partners analyst Patrick Donnelly said, "We estimate that the strikes at Sudbury, Voisey's Bay and Port Colborne, Ontario, have removed approximately 10% of the world's supply of nickel from the global markets." About 75% of Vale's nickel production comes from Canada.
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