Glencore Empire Announces Closure of Belledune Lead Smelter
in New Brunswick

Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!

Locked-out workers from Belledune picket Glencore properties in Montreal November 13, 2019.

The Glencore global empire in a surprise attack issued a statement on November 13 announcing the permanent closure of the Belledune Lead Smelter plant it controls. The 420 workers at the smelter, local townspeople, officials and politicians were not consulted and received the news with utter shock. No discussion of the shutdown occurred in advance while in fact many in the region believed that the recent investment in an acid plant at the smelter signalled a continuation of production for the foreseeable future.

Two-hundred and eighty members of USW Local 7085 have been locked out of the Belledune Smelter since April 24. They were in Montreal picketing Glencore properties to explain their situation to fellow workers when they received the news. Glencore has been demanding concessions from them that would weaken the workers' health and safety regime at the plant.

Needless to say, the news of the shutdown was like a dagger to the heart of all concerned, as the small community of 1,400 in northern New Brunswick has very little other employment. The loss of associated work and direct reproduced-value with the final closure at the end of the year will be a great blow to the town and region.

The area has suffered two major shutdowns in recent years. Xstrata, which is now part of the Glencore Empire, closed its nearby lead/zinc Brunswick Mine in 2013 resulting in a loss of over 900 jobs. Prior to that in 2005, the Smurfit-Stone corrugated paper mill in neighbouring Bathurst shut down with a loss of almost 500 jobs. Workers at those two sites and the Belledune smelter have produced enormous quantities of added-value over the years, most of which has not been invested in the region but rather seized and removed by the global financial oligarchy as private profit, leaving the local economy extremely weak.

Working people in New Brunswick and across Canada are commenting that these actions, which put the private interests of the international financial oligarchy ahead of all other considerations and turn the lives of people upside down, are no way to run a modern economy. These workplaces are the economic foundation of a community and its people and future. Decisions about the economy and its extended reproduction, diversity and stability are everyone's concern and it is their right to have a say and to chart a course forward. A new direction for the economy is necessary and the organized working people and their allies must bring it into being.

(Photos: Metallos)

This article was published in

Number 27 - November 20, 2019

Article Link:
Glencore Empire Announces Closure of Belledune Lead Smelter : Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!


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