Jaway Stainless Steel

Sandvik Materials Technology workers to begin strike

Sandvik Materials Technology Canada, makers of round stainless steel and nickel alloy seamless tubing, made a final offer on July 13th 2011. The 150 member Canadian Auto Workers union rejected it in favor of a strike.

Mr Derek Mosley spokesman at Canadian Auto Workers union said that "No one likes to strike. But if they want to strip us of our ability to retire with dignity and respect, they leave us no choice but to go on strike."

Mr Mosley said that the union is asking for a small wage increase; however, the main sticking points are to keep pensions and a bereavement package. He is unaware of the company's profitability.

Mr Michael Hall GM at Sandvik issued a statement saying the union's current, reduced demands will increase the company's labor costs by a minimum of six per cent a year for three consecutive years. He said that "This is something that simply cannot be sustained in light of the state of manufacturing in Canada. In addition to the economic pressures faced by the company in consequence of the economic climate in the NAFTA market, much of the cost pressure the company is experiencing is related to the fully company funded and generous pension plan the company provides its employees."

Sandvik has since withdrawn the partial offset to increased pension funding, he added, in light of the union's unwillingness to move on the issue.

Mr Hall went on to say the provincial government's demand that the company make significant payments into the pension plan, represents a 13% increase in labor costs in each of the next five years. He said that "It has seriously compromised the company's ability to meet the other financial demands made by the union."

Negotiations between CAW Local 2228 and Sandvik have been ongoing since June 15th 2011, with the collective agreement having expired July 1st 2011.

Mr Mosley said that he is aware many people will say unionized workers are lucky to have a job, and that a pro-corporation federal government shown when it offered Canada Post’s employees less than the company's final offer makes for a difficult context for strikers. But he is confident workers are united.

Sandvik in Arnprior has not faced a strike before in its 36 year history. A labor dispute that also revolved around pension changes was narrowly averted at the last minute at Arnpror Aerospace earlier this year.