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UPDATED: Race to avert strike at Quebec mine near Lab City

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An agreement in principle has been reached between the steelworkers Union and management at the Arcelor Mittal iron ore mine in Mount Wright.


On Friday the union announced it had rejected the company's last offer by 99.6 per cent . They set a strike deadline for noon today (Monday.)  After the rejection, both sides returned to the bargaining table.
Over the weekend, former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard assisted in the bargaining on behalf of the company.
Details of the tentative agreement were not revealed. Details of the agreement will be explained to the 2000 union members in Mt.Wright , Fire Lake , and Port Cartier over the next few days. Workers will then vote on the latest contract offer .

EARLIER STORY:

Negotiations are underway to try to avoid a strike at the Arcelor Mittal mine in Mount Wright Quebec.

Two thousand employees at the Mount Wright mine and the Port Cartier operation voted to reject the contract by 99.6 percent last week.

One of the main issues is with contract is the company's demand to introduce a two tier Pension system. Essentially, newer employees would be adversely affected.

"The mandate is clear; there is no question of abandoning our young people. The pension plan must be maintained for all workers," said Nicolas LaPierre, the Steelworkers' area coordinator for Quebec's North Shore region.

The union has given the company until Late Monday to come up with a better offer.

"The clock is ticking. The issues can be resolved if the employer has the will to do so. The employer should not doubt the resolve of these 2,000 members. If they are forced into a labour dispute, they won't hesitate," LaPierre said.

In nearby Wabush and Labrador City many of the supply and service companies are keeping a close eye on the negotiations. Those companies supply goods and services to the mine, and some of the other contractors in Mount Wright, and their operation in Fire Lake.

The last strike at the operation was in 2005, and lasted five weeks.

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