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Steelworkers at IOC in Labrador West give overwhelming approval for strike mandate

Ron Thomas, President of United Steelworkers local 5795 in Labrador west.
Ron Thomas, President of United Steelworkers local 5795 in Labrador west. - Photo by Mike Power

There’s not a doubt in anybody’s mind that the members of local 5795 of the United Steelworkers aren’t happy with proposed changes IOC wants to make to their contract.

Those changes were outlined to members at special meetings held on Monday. The workers were then asked to vote to give their executive the mandate to call a strike vote. The result of the vote, tallied Tuesday night, was a resounding 99.6 per cent in favor.

“That says it all,” union President Ron Thomas told the Aurora. “With members giving their executive such strong support, it’s a clear message to the company, the proposed changes are not acceptable.”

Thomas said one of the major issues concerned pensions.

“The company wants to change pensions so new hires would end up with a pension that is about a third of what current workers get.”

He also said changes are being requested to retirement.

Thomas said presently a person can retire after 30 years’ service, regardless of age. As an example, a person who started work at nineteen can retire at 49, but now the company wants the minimum age of retirement to be 52, meaning some people would have to work extra years before retiring.

Workers at IOC receive an extended vacation benefit after five years of service. Until now workers could receive a payout, or take it in vacation time.

Thomas told the Aurora the company wants to change this so this would be a monetary payout only.

And he said there is also a proposal to change the way overtime payments are calculated after a worker has taken a family day or been off sick. That amendment did not go over well with workers.

Both parties are now waiting for the conciliators report, which is expected at any time. Once signed by the minister of labour, the union has the right to hold a strike vote fifteen days later.

The Aurora asked IOC for a comment on the present situation, the company reply by email stated that “negotiations are between the two parties and we will not comment on them.”

The Aurora will continue to follow the story.

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