Vale granted injunction against workers striking at Newfoundland nickel site

LONG HARBOUR, N.L. – A provincial Supreme Court judge has granted Vale an injunction as the mining giant tries to resume construction of a nickel processing plant in southern Newfoundland, where crane operators went on strike Thursday.

Company spokesman Bob Carter said the injunction was ordered after more than 90 workers walked off the job in Long Harbour around 6 a.m.

Carter said the injunction means the workers need to “cease and desist,” adding that the strike prevented more than 1,800 workers from accessing the site.

Roy Hawco, a spokesman for the union representing the striking workers, said they didn’t block other workers from accessing the site.

He said the other unionized workers didn’t go on site out of solidarity.

“They’re backing each other,” he said. “We’ve been trying to get these issues solved since we started in 2009, so I guess frustration set in and that’s the route they took.”

Hawco said while the strike wasn’t sanctioned by the union, it is the result of more than two years of tension.

He said the crane operators are upset Vale is bringing in foreign workers.

“We’ve got lots of people out west who (could) come home if wages increased but (Vale) is bringing U.S. people up and that’s a lot of money compared to giving locals a few extra dollars on their paycheque,” he said.

Once the US$3.6 billion project is completed, it’s expected to employ 450 workers during its operation.