Significant Strike at Fermont ArcelorMittal Mining Complex

Broad Support for ArcelorMittal Workers

Workers from across Quebec rally at ArcelorMittal's Canadian headquarters
in Longueuil, May 21, 2021

Support for the ArcelorMittal workers on strike at ArcelorMittal's facilities on Quebec's North Shore since May 10 is coming from throughout Quebec and beyond.

ArcelorMittal workers in "the South" -- the Montreal and Montérégie regions -- have pledged ongoing support to the striking workers.

In the first week of the strike, Steelworkers' locals from five ArcelorMittal operations in Contrecoeur, Longueuil and Montreal sent $14,000 and announced that members of these locals will continue making donations to the strikers for the duration of the labour dispute. These locals are: Locals 6586 and 8060 at the Contrecoeur East steel plant; Local 6586-2 at the Contrecoeur-Feruni recycling and processing facility; Local 6951 at the Contrecoeur West steel plant; Local 8897 at the Longueuil steel plant and Local 9399 at the Saint-Patrick facility.

"The strike by our brothers and sisters is a courageous struggle to ensure that a fair portion of ArcelorMittal's astronomical profits is returned to the Quebec economy," said Yves Rolland, President of Steelworkers Local 6951 and spokesperson for the Comité de solidarité de l'acier (Steel Solidarity Committee). We stand in solidarity with the people of the North and will support them financially throughout this dispute. We will also be there to support them in the streets," Rolland said.

"We have the same employer as our brothers and sisters in the North. They extract our natural resources in the North and we provide the value-added processing and manufacturing in our plants in the South. Their battle for respect and for economic benefits for Quebec is our battle," he added.

The striking ArcelorMittal workers also received a pledge of recurrent financial support from United Steelworkers' Local 5795 representing the workers at the Iron Ore Company of Canada's (IOC) Labrador West operations. In its message to the striking workers, Local 5795 says that "With great pride, Local 5795 membership voted on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 during our regular monthly meeting to donate to Metallos 5778, one dollar per member for each week they remain on strike. They appreciate your support beyond measure." This refers to the support, including financial support, the ArcelorMittal North Shore workers provided to the Labrador workers during their nine-week strike in the spring of 2018. That fight was against concessionary demands, including transforming some of the workers into a temporary work force with inferior conditions, and for improvements in wages, and medical and pension benefits.

On May 20, representatives of USW Local 9344, representing IOC workers in Sept-Îles, went to the ArcelorMittal picket line in Port-Cartier to support the strikers. They handed over a cheque for $5,000 to the strikers and announced that they will donate $10 per member per month, or $3,400, for the duration of the conflict.

"We may work for employers who are in competition with each other, but we mining workers are all steelworkers, we are North Shore residents, we all care about the economy and the vitality of our region. The slogan of the ArcelorMittal brothers' and sisters' strike, The Resources from Here for the Economy Here also illustrates our reality very well," said Eddy Wright, president of Local 9344.

At a demonstration at ArcelorMittal's Canadian headquarters in Longueuil on May 21, Jason Braconnier, a representative of Local 6586 at the Contrecoeur East plant, announced that the workers held a special meeting where they decided to provide $10 per worker per week to striking workers from the first day of the strike until it ends. He reminded the participants that ArcelorMittal workers' locals signed a solidarity pact with each other in 2015 and this recurring financial support is a way for members to honour it. Mario Brin, a representative of USW Local 9449, which represents workers at the Glencore-owned Raglan mine in Nunavik, also announced financial support.

May 21, 2021. Rally at ArcelorMittal headquarters in Longueuil

(Photos: Syndicat des Métallos)

This article was published in

May 31, 2021 - No. 51

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