Workers at the IOC Mining Company in Labrador City voted almost unanimously in favor of the strike. The company is asking for concessions, particularly in the area of pensions and sick leave, which union members are not ready to accept.
It was 99.6% that the workers voted for a possible walkout. The participation rate is 90%. The message members send to management is unequivocal, says Local 5795 President Ron Thomas.
“I was expecting the vote to be high,” he says, “and I’m pleased to see that 99.6% of our members support our bargaining committee. ”
Among the issues in dispute are the proposed changes to the pension plan. Ron Thomas says the employer wants to adopt a two-tier system, where new employees receive only one-third of what current employees receive.
Another bone of contention is the hourly rate of overtime after returning from sick leave. According to the offer, workers will have to make up lost work hours while on sick leave before being entitled to the enhanced hourly rate.
A conciliator will give a report to the provincial government, which must sign it. Workers may go on strike 15 days later.
The threat of tariffs on steel
The strike vote takes place while the threat of tariffs on steel hovers over the industry.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said earlier this week that US President Donald Trump’s threat to impose 25% duty on steel “could have a detrimental impact” on iron ore production in Labrador.