Information on Concessions Glencore Is Dictating
On its website, United Steelworkers Local 7085 explains that Glencore’s dictate of anti-worker concessions has been ongoing since it acquired the Brunswick smelter in 2013, when it merged with Xstrata.
On June 29th, United Steelworkers Local 7085 posted a report entitled “Information about our Bargaining.”
Referring to concessions imposed on workers in the last collective agreement in 2014, the report informs:
“In 2014 the company negotiated more concessions with the Union claiming that we had to take concessions (again) to try to get an investment of approximately 230 million for a New Plant. After we agreed to take concessions of 20 million the new plant was never approved and we never got our money back. Instead they built the first of three phases of a new acid plant that cost approximately 20 million dollars, so in theory the Union paid for this phase.”
The report then details some of the concessions that were forced on workers in their last collective agreement in 2014. Amongst others, concessions were made on vacation pay, tool allowance, the drug plan, with the biggest concession of all on the pension plan.
The report states:
“The biggest concession that we took was our Pension Plan, we went from a plan [in] which the Company paid the pension, to a new Direct Contribution (DC) plan (new employees and employees with 12 years or less service) where the company pays five per cent of your Base earnings (no shift premiums, overtime or any other earnings). Then the Employees have an option of paying up to four per cent and if they contribute the company will match .5 per cent per each one per cent that the employee contributes. All this will total 11 per cent of their base hourly wage, all other earnings are excluded.
“So, with that said, some employees in five years have not caught up to their salary that they were receiving before the last contract.”
Current Concessions Being Demanded of Workers by Glencore Management
The following is a summary, taken from the same June 29 report, of the concessions that Glencore is presently demanding of workers, which they are rejecting.
“Union President’s 40 hours a week has been paid by the company since the early 1990’s.”
“They want him to go back on his job and give him 24 hours (2 shifts as he is a shift worker) to take when he chooses.”
In the company’s last offer dated September 18, which the workers refused to even vote on, that demand remains unchanged.
“Safety Officer: Our Joint Health and Safety Committee have a ‘Terms of Reference’ that allows The Union Chairman 40 hours a week ‘To ensure the health and safety of employees and ensure compliance with applicable Acts, Policies and Procedures ‘this has been in place since 1990 and the company wishes to have it removed and only have him involved when they decide to.”
In its most recent offer, Glencore is proposing that the Union Chairman be provided with paid leave of 6 hours per week. The company has arrogantly declared that this is a positive move because it allegedly moves the issue of safety to the floor level and promotes interaction between supervisors, co-workers and support staff, instead of workers having to call the safety office when a safety issue arises. This is a denial by the company that it exercises its dictate on the shop floor by preventing workers from interrupting production when a safety issue arises. Workers are reporting that they have to continuously fight to even get authorization to go to the office to explain what happened and discuss what to do. Without an office managed by a worker’s representative on a full-time basis, the situation is bound to get worse.
“Discipline: Our Collective agreement states that if you receive a written warning, it will be removed in 6 months, and if you are suspended it will be removed in 10 months. Now the company wants to keep your suspension on your record for 15 months ‘provided that no further disciplinary action has been recorded during this period.’ This is another strategy that the company wants to use to Terminate employees.”
The company’s new offer, after over five months of lockout and militant worker opposition, is that suspension letters be kept in employee files for 14 months and only removed at that time if no further disciplinary action is recorded during that period.
“Voluntary Early Retirement Plan: The company wishes to eliminate this program which has been negotiated since the early 1990’s. There are a minority of employees left on the plan and it is 110% funded, so we are asking to let the plan run itself out.”
In its most recent offer, the company is still intent on terminating the plan by 2024. It has proposed that the plan be made available to those who are 59 and have 32 years of service (rather than 58/32) in 2023.
“The ‘DC’ pension: We are only asking for a 2 per cent raise from 11 per cent to 13 per cent or let the employees use all their premiums, overtime and other benefits to go towards their pension so that they will have a fair pension.
In the latest offer, the company is claiming it cannot improve its contributions to the DC plan at the smelter because the same plan exists at many other Glencore sites, which means that they would all have to be changed. Instead, the company is proposing a one-time payment of $800 (less income tax withholdings) towards a Group Tax-Free Savings Account.
“Sick and Injured: We always had negotiated language to protect our sick and injured. During the last contract the company fired all of our sick and injured employees who were so disabled that they couldn’t come back to work. They still received their Long-term Disability or Workers’ Comp, but did not have their right to use our benefit plan for medication or dental. We lost this case in Arbitration so we were trying to have language to protect our employees in case of tragedy.”
The company is offering to remedy the situation in terms of language in the collective agreement that would protect workers in case of tragedy.
The report concludes:
“These are the main reasons that we voted in the high 90’s against this offer. All we want is a fair offer and to be treated with the RESPECT that we deserve.”