Nfld. & Labrador

Wildcat doesn't give labour a black eye, Payne says

The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour says the recent Vale labour dispute doesn't hurt the reputation of workers in the province.

Federation of Labour president says she is not worried about potential impact on future N.L. megaprojects

Federation of Labour president Lana Payne says reputation of N.L. workers unhurt by Vale dispute 4:54

A recently-resolved wildcat strike at the Vale processing plant cost the company about $15 million, but the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour says it doesn't hurt the reputation of workers in the province.

Lana Payne says the province has a good history of delivering megaprojects, and has great workers.

"Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are to the point in time where we're not just saying that we're lucky to have a job any more — we expect to have strong and good working conditions as well, and that's the kind of labour market that's being created," Payne said.

"And these workers, in particular, are quite mobile, so if they don't feel that they have the working conditions they deserve here, they'll go someplace else."

Payne said wildcat strikes are rare in this province, and Vale has not had a great labour relations record in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The wildcat strike at Vale's Long Harbour construction site lasted five days. The labour dispute was triggered by about 100 crane operators. Other workers joined the wildcat, effectively shutting down the site.

Other megaprojects

The Long Harbour wildcat came during a time of broader debate over the province's labour capacity, and whether work on other megaprojects can be done in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Oil giant ExxonMobil plans to move construction of a third module for the Hebron oil project out of the province. That work is valued at about $100 million.

However, Payne said she is not worried about the wildcat's potential impact on future megaprojects in the province.

"No, because I think when you look at the history of how much we've been able to deliver in terms of these megaprojects, I would say we have a very high-skilled workforce, and this is a good place to come," Payne said. "We have great workers."

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