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Vale lays off 21 at Sudbury operations

Company says being leaner now will set up company to be more agile in the future
Vale's Sudbury operations

Vale has laid off 21 workers from its Sudbury operations.

On Oct. 19, the company said the prolonged downturn in the industry has harmed the company's profitability and its competitiveness.

Vale cited a number of factors influencing the decision, including the closure of Stobie Mine and the Clarabelle Mill, the transition to a single furnace, and the closure of the copper circuit in its smelter, which all mean the Ontario operations will produce lower volumes than in recent years.

The company additionally said it was working to mitigate the impact on its unionized workers.

Vale had originally identified 280 surplus positions, but had whittled that number down to 100 through the displacement of contractors, natural attrition, the offer of a retirement incentive, and deployment of underground miners to the Copper Cliff Mine Project.

USW Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand said the released workers comprised a mix of operations and industrial millwright workers, some of whom work on surface and some underground.

He said he was disappointed in the layoffs, suggesting the company did not follow proper protocol, which involves laying off workers according to seniority, offering training to displace junior members, and releasing contractors before laying off staff.

“With a company this size, we feel they can eat up the 21 members that got laid off today,” Bertrand said.

“The argument here for us is there's still contractors on the property, and there's many contractors. There's no reason why they should be laid off.”

He said Local 6500 will file a grievance about the layoffs. The union “will be fighting tooth and nail to get all our members back to work,” Bertrand said.

Heidi Ulrichsen

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