Nfld. & Labrador

Long Harbour wildcat strike ends after 5 days

A five-day labour impasse at the Vale construction site in Long Harbour is over, with workers now back on the job.

Resource Development Trades Council says breakthrough in Vale labour dispute came Monday night

There was a steady flow of traffic to the Long Harbour construction site at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

A five-day labour impasse at the Vale construction site in Long Harbour is over, with workers now back on the job.

On Monday night, the head of the umbrella group that represents 16 unions at Vale's Long Harbour project said there had been a breakthrough in the dispute.

Gus Doyle, president of the Resource Development Trades Council, says all the union leaders have now agreed to end the wildcat job action.

"They've taken down their picket signs," Doyle told CBC News. "And they've said we want to talk [Tuesday] morning. We've got meetings set up. And we're telling all the workers to go back to work."

Doyle says Vale has agreed to fast-track a process to resolve 17 outstanding issues.

Crane operators started the wildcat strike last Thursday. They were quickly joined by hundreds of other tradespeople working on the project.

Workers are upset with wages and how the company is interpreting the collective agreement on issues such as travel and living allowances.

"We were all dealing with the same issues," Doyle said.

"We were dealing with it in different ways. And during this whole thing we've been having discussions with different people, and I'm pleased to say that we were working together. We got it resolved and it's what we wanted at the end of the day."

Late Monday, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court granted Vale's application to prosecute striking workers at the company's job site in Long Harbour.

Vale had claimed that striking workers were breaking an injunction issued last week by blocking access to the site.

Up to 1,000 workers stayed off the job Monday morning, instead gathering near the road to Vale's Long Harbour construction site in eastern Newfoundland. That's roughly half the workforce.

Vale spokesman Bob Carter says the company was concerned to hear some strikers were using intimidation to prevent others from returning to work.

"Fortunately, everyone is heading back to the site today and we'll be, obviously, monitoring the situation very closely today to see how things are on the site," Carter told CBC News Tuesday morning.

The construction site is covered by a special work order, and under that legislation, strikes or lockouts are prohibited.

The $3.6-billion Long Harbour plant will process nickel concentrate extracted from the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador.

It's scheduled to open in 2013.