Voisey's Bay workers end strike after voting to accept deal

The workers at Inco's Voisey's Bay Nickel mine in northern Labrador are heading back to work Wednesday after voting to accept a deal that ends an eight-week strike.

The workers at Inco's Voisey's Bay Nickel mine in northern Labrador are heading back to work Wednesday after voting to accept a deal that ends an eight-week strike.

More than 100 of the 120 striking workers, who handle heavy equipment and work in the mine's mill, gathered for the vote at the Royal Canadian Legion in Goose Bay on Tuesday.

The workers, many of them flown in from the coast of Labrador and from Newfoundland, approved the agreement by a vote of 80 to 26.

The United Steelworkers union that represents the workers had recommended the members accept the deal, which was forged with the Inco subsidiaryin athree-day bargaining session on the weekend.

Wages climbby15.5 per cent

The workers walked off the job on July 28after a year of contract talks failed to producean agreement. A union negotiator, Ken Dawson, said the new deal is a great improvement.

"There's a 15.5 per cent increase in wages, the pension has doubled, we got the nickel bonus that they never had [and] a cost of living they never had," Dawson said.

Every worker will also get $6,000 dollars when they go back to work. They will receive $4,000 by the end of the week, and another $2,000 next November.

A major issue in the strike was pay equity for workers at Voisey's Bay with other Inco operations, such as in Sudbury, Ont.

Deal 'a lot better,' pleased worker says

Before the vote, the workers had two hours to read over the agreement. Many said they were pleased with its terms and conditions.

"Well, I'll get a good raise out of it," said Ron Sheppard, amill worker."The benefits are pretty good so [it's] a lot better than what we had."

Welder Dwight Vokey was also pleased with the agreement.

"I think that the union negotiation team did a very good job," Vokey said.

"We got our pay parity and some of the guys in the warehouse were getting lower pay and now they're up to the same as Sudbury and other places."

Some workers disappointed

But not all of the workers wereas impressed.

"I'm disappointed [because] we had a clause with no discrimination, but I still got to pay a portion of my airfare to get from Newfoundland," said Hirum House.

"Other workers get paid 100 per cent and I don't like that."