The Rumour Mill

There is a rumour circulating that suggests that the membership can avoid all of the serious side effects of a strike by the following plan, which usually takes the following form:

1.      Don’t give the Union a Strike mandate if asked.

2.      Work as usual until the Contract deadline

3.      Then slow down until the Company gives in or locks us out.

4.      When the Company locks us out, then we can collect E.I. from the government.

Unfortunately, a number of our members are buying into this lie.

The first incorrect assumption here is that it is the Union that will put the workers out on strike. We do not negotiate strikes. The negotiating team you elected last spring is dedicated to getting you a contract, not a strike. We have been working for the past two and a half years getting ready for the upcoming set of negotiations. Our goal is to negotiate a contract that is fair and just; a contract that will provide for the security, and financial well being, of the workforce we represent.

The second major assumption that is wrong is the idea that we continue to work but would slow down after the contract is over. Under the Labour Relations Act a slow down is the same as a strike, and almost certainly this sort of activity would harm our bargaining position, and leave the Union open to legal retaliation by the Company.

CHAPTER 1 Schedule A

Labour Relations Act, 1995

 Amended by: 1997, c. 4, s. 83; 1997, c. 31, s. 151; 1998, c. 8, ss. 1-23; 2000, c. 24; 2000, c. 38, ss. 1-38; 2002, c. 16, s. 20.

 As of November 19, 2002.

Definitions

1.       (1) In this Act, …

 

“strike” includes a cessation of work, a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding, or a slow-down or other concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output; (“grève”)

 

 

Finally, no one may collect Employment Insurance benefits while they are involved in a labour dispute. The following was copied from the HRDC website and it is very clear on the issue of EI benefits and strikes.

http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/ae-ei/pubs/regular.shtml#disputes

Labour disputes

If a strike, a lockout or other form of labour dispute where you work causes you to lose your job or prevents you from going to work, you will generally not be paid EI benefits. The following conditions apply whether you are a union member or not and whether your job is part or full-time.

You may, however, be eligible to receive benefits if:

  • You are not taking part in the dispute;  
  • You are not giving money directly to support the dispute; and
  • You are not directly interested in the dispute (i.e. your wages or working conditions, etc., are not affected by the outcome of the dispute).

If you are taking part in a labour dispute, you are not eligible for EI until:

·         The strike or lockout is over; or

·         You have found another regular job where you pay EI premiums.

If you had already arranged for an approved absence from work before the work stoppage started, such as sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave or authorized training, you may still be eligible for EI benefits.

The three conditions above are not going to provide any escape from the situation for unionized workers as long as they remain employees of Falconbridge. The only power that the workforce has is the power they generate by acting together for their common good.

What must be done is to support the Bargaining Team you elected in May. We work for Xstrata Nickel and we have your best interests at heart. It is our intention to negotiate a contract. No other outcome is acceptable. If we are unable to negotiate a deal, it will not be because your team is at fault. We will use every tool at our disposal to prevent a strike.


You, the membership will have a number of opportunities to make your opinions known over the coming three months:

  • A short while ago everyone was sent a survey which would allow you to make known to the Negotiating Team, your feeling on the issues at the work-site.
  • The monthly membership meetings are held at the Hall on Regent Street at 7:30 pm on the second Wednesday of every month. If you cannot attend this meeting a second meeting will be held at 1:30 pm the next day, (Thursday).
  • Contact a Steward, or the Chief Steward at your operation to voice your concerns, or to get answers to your questions.
  • Read the newsletters that we will be trying to put out bi-weekly.

 

Remember, rumours are a tool that the Company will use to divide the workforce in hopes of spooking them into accepting an inferior contract

Fear is a tool that prevents people from acting in their own self-interest.

 

On behalf of the Bargaining Team

 

 Richard Paquin