Talks break down in Vale Sudbury strike

Fri May 7, 2010 4:37pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Talks aimed at ending a 10-month strike at Vale's Canadian nickel mining operations in Sudbury, Ontario, broke down on Friday, sparking blockades by disgruntled workers.

Negotiators for the Brazilian company and the United Steelworkers (USW) union resumed talks late last month at the request of a mediator appointed by the Ontario provincial government to help find a resolution to the walkout, which began July 13.

"Unfortunately, I have concluded that, at this time, no such pathway exists. Accordingly, I have adjourned these discussions," mediator Kevin Burkett said in a statement.

It was the second time this year the two sides had held mediated discussions. A similar attempt to reach a deal in early March ended with a contract proposal from Vale that was condemned by union leaders and decisively rejected by membership.

Vale responded to that vote by increasing production that it had started late last year, using non-unionized workers, as well as third-party contractors.

A total of 3,100 workers are on strike at the Sudbury mining and milling operations, as well as Vale's Port Colborne, Ontario, refinery, over pension, bonus and contract language issues.

A separate strike at Vale's Voisey's Bay nickel mine in Eastern Canada has been going on since August 1.

Vale acquired the operations in 2006 when it bought Inco.   Continued...