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Vol. 74/No. 49      December 27, 2010

On the Picket Line
U.S. Steel locks out workers
in Hamilton, Ontario

HAMILTON, Ontario—U.S. Steel locked out 900 workers at its plant here November 7. Rob Hinton and Glen Faulman, members of United Steelworkers Local 1005, told the Militant December 11 on the picket line that the company is trying to drastically reduce pensions for existing retirees and new hires. There are 9,000 pensioners, 78 percent of whom are widows.

Hinton was hired along with about 200 others in September. Faulman is a third generation steelworker who has more than 11 years in the plant. U.S. Steel bought the company from Canada-based Stelco in October 2007. Faulman said U.S. Steel is trying to “drag us down." On December 17 there will be a children’s Christmas party and open house at the Hamilton convention center in support of Local 1005, and as Hinton put it, “to let the community get more into our fight.”

The blast furnace was shut down before the lockout and cannot be started up again until the spring for safety reasons, so workers expect this is will be a long lockout.

— Joe Young

Paperworkers in Australia
strike Visy cardboard plants

SYDNEY, Australia—Some 29 union supporters were arrested in Melbourne December 13 for attempting to block truck access to a strikebound plant of Visy, a large cardboard recycler and manufacturer.

Almost 400 workers, most of them members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, began an indefinite strike at three Visy facilities December 3. The paperworkers are fighting to defend union rights as they seek parity pay increases with workers at newer company plants without union agreements.

The strike is also against the reduction of casual (temporary) workers’ pay to the minimum rate and the halving of severance payments. The union is defending its position to back workers during dispute procedures, and is demanding a “heat policy” with better breaks during very hot conditions.

Unionists at Visy sites in Dandenong, Melbourne, and at Warwick Farm and Smithfield in Sydney set up continuous pickets to discourage truck drivers and strikebreakers from entering the plant. Many drivers, members of the Transport Workers Union, have refused to cross. Several workers at Warwick Farm told the Militant that some biker gang members had been used to “ride shotgun” on strikebreaking trucks to try to intimidate union members.

The indefinite strike was preceded by a 24-hour work stoppage November 29 that included more than 100 other workers at Visy plants in Western Australia and Queensland. Unionists there are supporting the strike action with overtime bans.

—Ron Poulsen

Philadelphia: Sky Chef workers
rally for new contract

Dozens of LSG Sky Chef workers, represented by UNITE HERE, rallied in Philadelphia December 6 to demand a new contract. The previous one expired more than a year ago.

The union represents some 7,000 Sky Chef workers in the United States and Canada. The company supplies catering and in-flight products to more than 300 airlines around the world. In 2005 Sky Chefs cut wages and benefits by 30 percent. In January health care costs will rise to over $500 per month for family plans. Average wages are $10 per hour.

The union says Sky Chef workers will be holding informational rallies around the United States.

—Angel Lariscy
Related articles:
Iowa unionists back locked-out workers
Gov’t in Spain breaks air controllers strike
Bangladesh: Thousands strike for higher wages  
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