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Human Resources, Labour and Employment
October 23, 2010

Last Minute Talks Unable to Resolve Voisey's Bay Strike

The Provincial Government confirms today that an Industrial Inquiry Commission into the ongoing labour dispute between the United Steelworkers Local 9508 and Vale Newfoundland and Labrador Limited will proceed and that a review into the matters impacting this strike shall commence immediately.

"The Provincial Government is profoundly disappointed that the United Steelworkers and Vale have failed to resolve this dispute," said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment and Minister Responsible for the Labour Relations Agency. "Parties have been given full access to the conciliation and mediation support of the Labour Relations Agency and the assistance of an independent mediator, and yet they have been unable to put aside their differences and find a solution that is satisfactory to both sides."

Two weeks ago, the Provincial Government imposed a deadline on the parties to settle the labour dispute or face the scrutiny of an Industrial Inquiry Commission. That deadline has now passed.

On October 19, the Provincial Government announced that the Industrial Inquiry Commission would comprise John F. Roil, Q.C., as Inquiry Chairperson, and Randell Earle, Q.C., and Brian R. Gatien as Inquiry Members.

"We were hopeful a resolution would be reached this weekend when the parties came back to the table for a final round of talks; however, since an agreement has not been reached we have no further recourse than to proceed with an Industrial Inquiry and undertake a review of this dispute," said Minister Sullivan.

The Industrial Inquiry Commission will examine and provide recommendations that will address the following industrial matters:

(i)         The positions of the parties in relation to the outstanding collective bargaining issues;

(ii)         The factors which have led to the existing labour-management relations climate at the Voisey's Bay project site in Labrador and options to improve these relations; 

(iii)        The identification of local, provincial, national or international matters that may be contributing factors in this dispute;

(iv)        A discussion of any impacts this dispute may be having on other labour-management relationships;

(v)         A discussion of the ramifications of this dispute, and its costs to the Province and the parties involved;

(vi)         The options to resolve this dispute, including proposed terms of settlement, should the parties fail to conclude a collective agreement before the filing of the Commission's report; and,

(vii)       Other matters the Commission may deem appropriate.

The Provincial Government is requesting that the inquiry complete its report within two months.

"The appointment of an Industrial Inquiry Commission is an extraordinary step on our government's part and is a measure that we believe demonstrates both the seriousness of this matter and our concern with this protracted strike and the effects it is having on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," concluded Minister Sullivan.

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Media contact:
Bradley Power
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-0753, 699-5707

2010 10 23

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