Mining merger unwelcome, union claims

Mining merger unwelcome, union claims

The union that represents many Inco and Falconbridge employees is wary of a deal that would see the mining companies merge with an American company.

Phelps Dodge Corp. announced its plans on Monday to merge with Inco and Falconbridge, in a transaction valued at $40 billion US.

The United Steelworkers union, which is hosting a meeting of more than 400 delegates from eastern Canada in St. John’s, sees little to cheer in the announcement, which would see the new company headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz.

Wayne Fraser, the Ontario-Atlantic director with the United Steelworkers union, denounced the proposal as unexpected and unwelcome.

“I’m disappointed with the turn of events with respect to Phelps Dodge, because there’s a possibility here that there’s going to be foreign ownership of our resources, and that’s not good news, short- or long-term for Canadians,” Fraser told CBC News.

The Steelworkers represent 120 employees at the Inco-owned Voisey’s Bay mine in northern Labrador, where the union is trying to reach the first collective agreement for those workers.

Negotiator Ken Dawson said the potential sale of Inco should not affect work on that contract.

“Every other week there seems to be something new that’s developing,” Dawson said.

“My job is the to get in there and do an agreement, get an agreement that’s acceptable to our members. I’ll let the upper part of the organization deal [with] those kinds of issues.”

Talks between Inco and the Steelworkers broke off about two weeks ago.

Dawson said the union is waiting for a conciliator to submit a report to the Newfoundland and Labrador government.


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