On January 31, the 200 employees of Vale in Voisey’s Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador voted 88 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement. Members of the United Steelworkers (USW), they have been on strike for 18 months.
The largest bone of contention between Vale and the USW was the term of the agreement. The union, understandably, wanted to have the Voisey’s Bay contract end at the same time as the Sudbury Vale contract. The company, equally understandably, did not. It was proposing a three-year deal and when the Industrial Inquiry recommended four years (with the agreement expiring five months before Sudbury), the company initially refused.
Now, the term will be five years, which is what the union was looking for, but the contract will expire eight months after Sudbury.
Most of the financial terms of the agreement had essentially been agreed to even before the Industrial Inquiry issued its report. They include:
- A $4,000 signing bonus in two installments;
- $1.00 in GWI over the term of the agreement, plus a 62¢ COLA fold-in and on-going COLA;
- A site bonus of 10% of base wages;
- An increase in company pension contributions from 6% to 8%;
- A two-pronged bonus with a maximum payout of 25% of wages;
- A new stat holiday; and
- Job security and health and safety language.
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