Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Steelworkers feeling 'at home' in Brazil

By Carol Mulligan, The Sudbury Star

United Steelworkers are hoping that solidarity is forever --whether you live and work in Northern Ontario or in Brazil, the home of Vale Inco Ltd.'s parent company, Vale SA.

Unionized employees in the two countries continue to develop a relationship they hope will last long beyond USW's strike against Vale Inco in Sudbury, Port Colborne and in Voisey's Bay.

Myles Sullivan, area co-ordinator for USW District 6, has begun writing a blog from Brazil where he and Local 6500 vice-president Rick Bertrand are visiting for two weeks.

Sullivan and Bertrand are the third and fourth Steelworkers to visit Brazil to build bonds of support and develop a global action plan, says USW spokesman Bob Gallagher.

This international co-operation follows the partnership formed by USW International President Leo Gerard and CUT (Brazil's largest trade union) president Artur Henrique da Silva Santos less than a month ago.

On Day 1 of his blog, Sullivan wrote: "Boa vinda. Myles here. I've landed in this beautiful land of sunshine, gorgeous vegetation and strong, welcoming people.

"I'm here along with Rick on a mission to build close ties, strong support and renewed solidarity with fellow workers in Brazil.

"When I heard my first 'boa vinda' (welcome), I knew I was a long way from my picket line in Sudbury, Ontario. But when I shook hands and chatted with the group of workers that met us, I knew we were right at home and part of a family of people who know what it means to fight for dignity in the workplace."

"The potential for international teamwork on this Vale Inco strike is significant," said Bertrand.

The Brazilian workers organized into the Vale Union Network, part of nearly 150,000 Vale employees in 35 countries in five continents.

"They are extremely concerned about the fate of the negotiations in Canada, since the outcome could have an immediate impact in the renewal of the collective agreements in Brazil," said Gallagher in a written statement.

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