Settlement Reached in Sudbury Falconbridge Strike

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

(From an article by the Sudbury Coalition for Social Justice)

On Tuesday, February 20th, the 1250 striking mine, mill and smelter workers at Falconbridge Nickel Mines in Sudbury, Ontario ratified an agreement reached between the company and CAW/Mine Mill Local 598 the previous day. Falconbridge's Sudbury operations produce 4% of the world supply of nickel along with copper, cobalt and platinum group metals.

The agreement ends a strike that began last August 1, just weeks after Brascan took over majority ownership of Falconbridge's parent company, Noranda. The strike continued through the use of scabs ("replacement workers"), Accu-Fax goons, injunctions and the arrest of about ten Mine Mill members and supporters. On January 28th, more than a thousand Mine Millers and their supporters were met with an OPP riot squad, pepper spray, tear gas and attack dogs at the gates of the Falconbridge smelter. The strike ended with an injunction that banned all but token picketing, a threat by the company to undertake full-scale production with the use of hundreds of scabs imported from across Canada, and rumours in the financial press about the potential takeover by Brascan of Inco, Falconbridge's cross-town rival, which controls more than a quarter of the world nickel supply.

The end of the strike does not mean the end of the struggle of the Falconbridge workers, merely that it is assuming a new form as the workers deal with the implications of the new contract as it is implemented.