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    Falconbridge starts union dialogue
    Monday, October 13, 2003
    NICKEL traders are watching carefully as the first preliminary talks are held between Falconbridge and its unions over a new agreement at its Sudbury nickel mines in Canada.

    The mines, which yield close to 50,000 tonnes of nickel a year, are a critical source of supply in the currently tight world nickel market. Any hint of a strike, such as that which slowed output at Inco's nearby operations, could push the price of the metal sharply higher.

    Early indications are that a strike is off the agenda of the 1200 workers at Falconbridge's operations with the Inco agreement serving as a template for their revised pay rates.

    However, union leaders refuse to dismiss the potential for industrial action saying only that they are in regular contact ahead of a formal start to negotiations on December 1 with the aim being to have a new deal in place before the existing labour agreement expires on February 1 next year.

    A union spokesman told Platts Commodity News that there had been almost daily contact with Falconbridge over a range of issues.

    "We've identified where the problems are and it's up to Falconbridge to address them," said Rick Grylls, president of the local branch of the Canadian Autoworkers Union.

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