LONG HARBOUR, NL – Earlier this month, mining company Vale in Long Harbour retendered a contract resulting in 150 skilled trades workers losing their employment through subcontractor Pennecon Maintenance Services. The contract flip saw these individuals lose good-paying, skilled employment overnight, and those who have received new offers must choose between going back to work for significantly less pay and benefits with new contractor DF Barnes, or not go back to work at all.
FFAW-Unifor, which represents the skilled trades workers employed through Pennecon, had an established collective agreement in place until the year 2025. The skullduggery, money-saving move by Vale eliminates this collective agreement between Pennecon and FFAW-Unifor as well as the established seniority list and hard earned union-rights like paid leave and modest wage increases in future years.
“Our provincial government loves to show Vale off as their shining star for what they contribute to Newfoundland and Labrador. But the 150 individuals who are being asked to take up to a 20 per cent pay cut tell a much different story,” says FFAW-Unifor Industrial Director, Greg Pretty. “These workers have built lives and established families in the Placentia Bay/Trinity Bay regions because of the quality employment that Vale offered. It’s abundantly clear that Vale’s only concern is shareholder returns – not the hardworking people who make those profits possible.”
Despite their contributions to the company’s success over the past 7+ years, these skilled trades workers have been placed in an extremely vulnerable position and fear speaking out publicly against Vale’s actions. They have no job security past June 1, 2022, when Pennecon ceases to be their employer moving forward.
“A lack of provincial regulation and oversight allows companies like Vale to engage in contract flipping practices. While we would hope that corporations like Vale would operate in an ethical and decent manner, it’s clear that’s not the reality and more oversight is needed to safeguard workers in these precarious employment situations,” says Pretty.
“Vale has generated billions of dollars in shareholder value in the last number of years but it’s clear that in order to do that they must engage in underhanded, unethical tactics at the operational level. This move very effectively erodes good quality jobs from our rural communities through union busting and penny-pinching, and it’s appalling that our provincial government is standing by and watching it happen,” Pretty says.
“We expect public explanations from Vale, DF Barnes, as well as Premier Andrew Furey on how this move is good for the people of our province, when it’s clear the people of our province are losing,” Pretty concludes.
For media inquiries:
Courtney Glode (she/her)