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Mission accomplished! Canadian Steelworkers stop Glencore attack after nine month strike

28 November, 2017371 members of the United Steelworkers – Syndicat des Métallos in Quebec, Canada, have won a new contract with the Glencore-managed CEZinc refinery after nine months of strike action.

The workers went on strike at the CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, on 12 February, after the company tried to cut costs by raiding their pension scheme.

Members of USW Local 6486 voted 82 per cent in favour of accepting the new collective agreement, which protects their pension rights. They will return to work on 3 December.

USW representative Luc Julien said:

“They return with heads held high. They fought proudly for nine months, to defend conditions for themselves, but also for future generations. The trade union movement must defend decent conditions for future generations, and that is what these strikers have done.”

The campaign was supported by the local community, and by the international trade union movement. IndustriALL took global action in support of the strike at the Glencore AGM in Switzerland in May, and at the Glencore global network meeting in September. IndustriALL also lobbied Glencore top management directly on a number of occasions. Australian affiliate the CFMEU – which is involved in a bitter dispute with Glencore at the Oaky North mine – also extended the hand of friendship and solidarity.

At its meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 9 November, the IndustriALL executive committee endorsed a global campaign at Glencore. The campaign seeks to establish dialogue with the company at a global level to improve conditions for workers everywhere, and will continue until the company changes its approach to unions.

The campaign will take global action on International Human Rights Day,10 December, to highlight the company’s violations of workers’ rights around the world.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“This is a very encouraging way to begin our campaign against Glencore. We hope it sets a precedent for more victories to come.

“The solidarity, sacrifice and commitment of the Métallos and the brave strikers brought this victory after nine difficult months. We salute them, and we take this fight forward, so that Glencore workers everywhere can win decent conditions.”