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From the desk of the President - March 2013
Published: March 12, 2013

What a year it has been to date. Let me recap…

First, we had to bargain with our employer past the deadline again in order to achieve an agreement that was fair and good enough for our members.

Second, the employer disclosed to us that unfortunately nobody would be eligible for the employee performance incentive, as per our collective agreement, because we did not reach all the targets. Let’s look at this in a broader perspective. The company was happy when the Smelter broke the production record in last half of 2012. The company was happy when NRS exceeded production and made lots of money. The company was happy as the Mill also exceeded expectation. The company was also concerned on the progress at Fraser Mine, but happy by year end as things were turning around.

So, looking at the big picture on the company profits, Xstrata Nickel Sudbury Operation benefited heavily on these achievements as the company made it clear at bargaining that they are profitable in Sudbury.

Unfortunately, the employer sets the targets on the 4 factors under that program and the employees have no say or control on these targets. In addition, the Union requested that these targets be known to us and so far, we never see them until it is time to reveal how the employer did under that program. So, in my view, it is hard to believe in a program that was put forth in the collective agreement by the employer in 2010 and especially since it only paid out twice in the last 3 years and we are supposed to believe that it really indicates how well we are doing. At the end of the day, it should be designed that if we, as a Sudbury Operation, regardless of Operation costs, production or even injury frequency, if we make money, all employees should be compensated for contributing in that achievement.

The second issue that is very relevant is the Nickel Bonus. It is very obvious now that in the second quarter of each year, we will never get a nickel bonus and that is because this company of Xstrata PLC (being so large) can afford to write off losses within certain business units making them not profitable affecting certain collective agreements. I know what they are doing is legal based on international accounting practices, but is it ethical and in the best interest of its employee’s? Only time will tell. As shareholder, the only thing that seems to matter is that Xstrata PLC as a whole, makes money and they get dividends. They do not seem to care what certain component of the business does and how it affects the livelihood of those employees. Imagine now that Glencore is on board, we are now worth 3 times more as an employer, they can easily write off certain parts of the business that is not profitable and still make tons of money but do not have to share with the employee’s. Hopefully, this won’t happen and instead they will invest more heavily in promoting Sudbury. Only time will tell.

So…what does this mean in my opinion?

It means that the Sudbury Operations does not care if employee’s over exceed what is asked of them, as their own designed system, ensures that no one gets compensated. The parent company, Xstrata PLC, cares even less as they are willing to keep a business that makes them money but can still lose money at the same time. How is that possible???

This really is a losing system, as designed by the employer, but since we make good wages, I encourage everyone to give it 100% as it is what we get paid for – not 101%, 102%, 103%, etc as it shortens the life expectancy of our operations. Work safely to ensure you and your co-workers return home safely with no injuries at the end of each and every shift.

With respect always,

Yours in Solidarity,
Richard Paquin, President
Mine Mill Local 598/CAW

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