Port, railway workers reject Canada miner IOC's latest offer

TORONTO (Reuters) - A majority of 98 percent of workers at the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s railway and port operations in Sept Iles, Quebec have rejected the miner’s latest contract offer, the United Steelworkers said on Thursday, after negotiations stumbled on monetary issues.

The 305 unionized employees are unhappy with amounts proposed in the defined-benefit pension plan, the union said. Earlier this month, they voted 99.2 percent in favor of a strike mandate, but will not have the right to strike before April 10.

On Tuesday, some 1,300 workers walked off the job at IOC’s Labrador City mine, after rejecting the company’s final contract offer on Monday. IOC has initiated a short-term contingency plan, using staff employees to shut down operations and protect assets.

Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp said the strike is expected to adversely affect its revenue, which depends entirely on IOC’s sale of iron ore productions.

The IOC, majority-owned by Rio Tinto with Mitsubishi holding a 26-percent stake, said on March 8 that the 305 workers had rejected their requests for concessions and a two-tier retirement program.

Reporting by Susan Taylor