LONDON, July 22 -- Negotiations between Brazilian miner Vale SA (VALE) and the United Steelworkers' union to end a year-long strike at the company's Voisey's Bay operations in eastern Canada were broken off late Tuesday with "little progress toward a new collective agreement", Vale said.
The latest talks, aimed at finding a settlement to a strike that began on Aug. 1, 2009, resumed Monday but have now ended in a dispute over the bonus structure.
Vale said in a statement late Tuesday, as the talks concluded, that the USW has rejected three full settlement proposals tabled by the company over the past 12 months of negotiation.
"We are very frustrated and extremely disappointed," said Tom Paddon, general manager of Vale's operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But USW staff representative Boyd Bussey said the company "appears not to be serious about striking a deal" and warned the proposed bonus system is "unacceptable".
"Vale is offering a lesser bonus system than the one given to Sudbury Local 6500 just two weeks ago," he said.
"It's based entirely on incentives rather than the present one based solely on the average realized price of nickel or the profitability of the company. The Sudbury bonus has a nickel component and a worldwide company profitability component."
But Paddon said the USW is showing a "lack of flexibility".
"We will continue to move forward with our operations at Voisey's Bay," he added.
Vale added a second shift at the Voisey's Bay mine and mill site a few weeks ago, using non-unionized workers, and the company told Dow Jones Newswires Saturday the facility was now "fully operational and ramping up to full production".
Vale spokesman Cory McPhee said the push to get the operations to full capacity despite ongoing strike negotiations was "not meant to be threatening." "It is just what the business demands," he said.
No further talks are currently scheduled.