Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Mediated talks between USW, Vale continue today in Toronto

Posted By Carol Mulligan, Sudbury Star (Tuesday, May 4, 2010)

It is now confirmed.

Members of the bargaining committees for United Steelworkers and Vale Inco Ltd. will continue talks mediated by arbitrator Kevin Burkett today (Tuesday) in Toronto.

Burkett met with representatives of the two parties April 26 and 27, and May 1 and 2, and will pick up where the parties left off today, according to his assistant, Fiona Ho.

"I am sure he will issue a statement to the press in due course," Ho said of Burkett in an e-mail to The Sudbury Star late Monday night.

Speculation has been rampant in Sudbury in recent weeks that the two parties have been meeting in an attempt to end the bitter strike by about 3,000 Steelworkers in Ontario.

USW District 6 director Wayne Fraser told The Star on Monday that the parties had talked in recent days, but denied discussions were ongoing.

Well-placed union sources told The Star that discussions with Burkett have been going on for some time, but that Burkett had imposed a media blackout on them.

About 3,000 members of United Steelworkers Local 6500 in Sudbury and Local 6200 in Port Colborne went off the job July 13 over pensions, the nickel bonus, seniority transfer rights and contracting out.

There has been little discussion between the two parties since then although Burkett did hold 10 days of mediated talks, adjourning them March 7 because the parties were too far apart.

Legal counsel for USW and Vale Inco appeared before the Ontario Labour Relations Board in Toronto on Monday regarding a bad-faith bargaining complaint filed by the union Jan. 13 on the six-month anniversary of the strike.

Oral arguments were heard by a panel of three OLRB members, led by board chair Kevin Whitaker, about the union's request to obtain documents from Vale that might support USW's complaint.

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