Steelworkers: Elimination of 156 Jobs at Vale Is Appalling

Earlier this week, Vale reported that its third-quarter net profit nearly doubled from the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, 156 jobs at Vale Manitoba Operations have been eliminated following a comprehensive review.

The workforce at the Vale Manitoba operations is now down to about half of their employees compared to three years ago. The reduction in hourly employees represents close to 20% of the members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166 who work for Vale.

“It’s been a pretty hard time for everyone at the plant and these layoffs are a real punch in the stomach for our members,” said Warren Luky, President of USW Local 6166. “At a time when Vale is making big profits, these layoffs are appalling. It’s horrible for all the people affected by the layoffs, especially amid a global pandemic. Now is not the time for a company to be laying off workers.”

Vale has stated that it is producing 900,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate per year and it is forecasting to increase production to 1.1 million tonnes within the next two to three years.

“Don’t give me the ‘it’s a business decision’ or ‘in order to be sustainable’ rhetoric,” said Matt Winterton, USW Staff Representative. “This is wrong. Absolutely, morally wrong. But this is what happens when governments allow private corporations to reap resources for pure profit with no checks and balances.

“We are hearing from workers that Vale is using contractors to do the jobs of our laid-off workers,” Winterton noted. “There is work and there is absolutely no reason for these layoffs, especially when there is growth in electric vehicle sales and production is resulting in higher demand for nickel for batteries. This is nothing more than a continuation of corporate greed and putting profits over people.”

On Vale’s quarterly results call, Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Bartolomeo and Executive Director Marcello Spinelli reported that recovered inventories in China will give Vale more flexibility on sales going forward and should help to stabilize the world’s supply and demand for the raw material.

Vale’s stock rose almost 3% following the quarterly financial results.