After nearly a year and a half of being on strike, workers at the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Mine in Labrador returned to work this week.
Members of the United Steelworkers union Local 9508 have spent the last nine months on the picket line at Voiseys Bay Nickel Co. They say they feel a lack of support from the provincial government, which is why they demonstrated today at the Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Photo by Adam Randell/The Labradorian
Vale spokesperson Bob Carter said the first group of workers headed into the fly-in mining site on Tuesday and Wednesday and the second and final group should be back to work by next week.
“The mood is generally positive,” Mr. Carter said. “I think people are generally glad to be back to work.”
More than 200 workers for Vale and Vale contractor Labrador Catering walked off the job in August of 2009 after their contract expired and they failed to reach a new contract agreement with their employers.
Nearly a year later, in June, the contract for Ushitau Maintenance employees at Voisey's Bay mine site also expired and 53 workers joined their fellow unionists after also being unable to reach an agreement with thier employer, Ushitau Maintenance Ltd.
After months of negotiations and a government ordered industrial inquiry into the strike, the initial strikers reached a tentative deal with their employers on Jan. 26 of this year.
As part of the new agreement, the Vale workers underwent two weeks of training before returning to the job site. Mr. Carter said the training was necessary because of the length of time the workers were away from the workplace.
Ushitau Maintenance employees also reached a tentative deal last week with their employer. Employees of this company began returning to the job site yesterday.
Not all of the striking workers returned to work once the strike ended.
Mr. Carter said there were a few workers who chose not to return to work but he would not comment on specific numbers.