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November 22, 2010 - No. 199

Annexation No! Sovereignty Yes!

Oppose Vale's $10 Billion Plan to Further Annex
Canada's Resources

Annexation No! Sovereignty Yes!
Oppose Vale's $10 Billion Plan to Further Annex Canada's Resources

Styrochem Workers in Baie-d'Urfé Fight Company's Lockout - Interview, Yvan Vernier, Chairperson, CEP Local 700

No to NATO! NATO Out of Afghanistan! Dismantle NATO!
Mass Demonstration in Lisbon Opposes NATO Plans for Militarization and War
Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver Actions Oppose Extension of Canada's Afghan Mission
Mass Demonstration in Britain Demands "Bring the Troops Home Now!"

Annexation No! Sovereignty Yes!

Oppose Vale's $10 Billion Plan to Further Annex
Canada's Resources

On November 17 Vale made public its $10 billion five-year plan in a press release entitled "Vale Outlines Investment Plans For Canadian Operations; In Excess of $10B Over Five Years." What Vale and apologists for the neoliberal globalization agenda of the rich would call "investment" in Canada is its complete opposite, unless one considers a more archaic meaning of investment: "the surrounding of a place by a hostile force in order to besiege or blockade it." The contents of Vale's plan reveal an agenda to further annex and monopolize control of Canadian natural resources.

Vale's press release itemizes its spending plans: $2.5-$3 billion to be spent on expanding its control of potash resources in Saskatchewan; $2.8 billion for a hydrometallurgical nickel processing facility in Long Harbour, Newfoundland; $1.5-$2 billion for what Vale touts as "the most significant environmental investment ever contemplated in the Sudbury basin"; $360 million to re-open the Totten Mine as a deep mine project to access high grades of nickel, copper etc; $200 million for new floatation technology at the Clarabelle Mill that will increase mineral recovery by 3-4 percent; etc.

Just because the numbers are big does not mean it is of net benefit to Canada. Vale "invested" $19 billion to take over Inco and then removed as much social wealth as possible from Sudbury and Canada, placing it in the hands of monopoly capitalists and financiers. So regardless of the hoopla of the Vale cheerleaders that this is "good" for Canada, the truth is that it is good for Vale and its bottom line. Vale is manoeuvring to hold the world to ransom by monopoly price-fixing for nickel and potash, just as it has done with its control of iron ore resources worldwide. That is not in our national interest. Vale is a hostile force besieging and blocking the demands of the Canadian working class to establish public ownership and control of our natural resources for the benefit of Canadian society, for our people and the First Nations. These resources belong to the peoples of this land, not to the global monopolies.

Vale's Plans to Destroy Productive Assets in Thompson, Manitoba

File photo: Delegation of Vale workers of USW Local 6166 from Thompson, Manitoba visits striking Vale workers in Sudbury, August 7, 2009.

Vale's $10 billion plan will wipe out 500 full-time jobs and destroy useful, productive assets of Canadian society by phasing out smelting and refining in Thompson by 2015. Vale calls this "transitioning to a new operating model in Manitoba" and demands Thompson workers embrace change and get on board with Vale's agenda to become "the biggest mining company in the world."

"The idea is 'let's grow in mining,'" Vale CEO Tito Martins said in an interview. "What we want to do over the next five years is work together with our employees, with the local authorities and even the federal authorities."

It is completely unacceptable for global monopolies like Vale or U.S. Steel or the forest monopolies to seize control of our resources, destroy productive capacity according to their own narrow self interest. Destroying the smelting and refining capacity at Thompson is not a net benefit for Canada!

Vale plans to phase out the Thompson smelting and refining operations, reducing Thompson along with Voisey's Bay production, to feeding Vale's planned hydrometallurgical nickel processing plant in Long Harbour Newfoundland, which is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Vale's Agenda in Sudbury

The big ticket item for Sudbury is what Vale refers to as "the most significant environmental investment ever contemplated in the Sudbury Basin. At a cost of $1.5 to $2 billion, the project will reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide more than 80 percent over current levels." The project is at "the feasibility stage" with 2015 as a projected completion date.

Some of that technology will be applied to the Clarabelle Mill in Sudbury immediately, introducing a new floatation system and modern technology to improve recovery by 3-4 percent once implemented. Vale expects to complete the Clarabelle upgrade by 2012.

Besides increasing recovery rates Vale is going all out to high grade the ore bodies in Sudbury. The Totten Mine will be brought into production by the end of next year ($360 million) and Vale is "re-evaluating the previously suspended Copper Cliff Deep project targeting 126 million metric tons of ore" which at depth are extremely rich and will "yield impressive results" for Vale.

Once Vale increases volumes of nickel produced by high grading and through the technological and scientific advances in processing that have been perfected for nickel in recent years, what will be the net benefit for the working people of Sudbury? Vale's plans to reduce its productive workforce significantly was exposed during the strike in documents tabled before the Ontario Labour Relations Board by the United Steelworkers. Only an effective Workers' Opposition can establish public control of our resources and curb the power of these global monopolies. The seeds of the next battles with Vale have already been sown.

Vale and the Environment

File photo: Toronto support rally for striking Vale workers,
March 5, 2010.

Vale presents itself and its $10 billion five-year plan in Canada as environmentally responsible, aiming to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions in Sudbury, for example, by more than 80 percent. That there is a sulphur dioxide reduction benefit from the new hydrometallurgical nickel processing technology is really only coincidental -- welcomed, but coincidental to Vale's "investment" which results in significantly higher recovery rates for nickel, copper and the platinum-metal-group byproducts such as platinum, cobalt, etc.

The hydrometallurgical technology may not produce sulphur dioxide emissions but it has its own toxic waste potential that requires its own kind of management. Vale's processing facility at Long Harbour, for example, is expected to produce 386,000 tons of waste a year that will be poured into Sandy Pond tailing facility. There are serious concerns about it. Vale has secured the use of Sandy Pond for its tailing facility at Long Harbour by using a section of the Fisheries Act to exempt it from environmental protection.

Once implemented, Vale's new processing technology may well reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by 80 percent in Sudbury but in reality one familiar environmental waste management problem will be replaced by another less familiar environmental waste management problem which will have its own unique features and hazards to deal with.

Potash Is a Strategic Resource Not Another Big Score for Vale

Vale has its sights set on Canadian potash as a significant part of its $10 billion five-year global plan of annexation of resources in Canada -- $2.5-$3 billion to be exact. In partnership with a Chinese resource development company, Vale is one of the global monopolies contending with the likes of BHP Billiton for control of potash resources world wide to make a big score selling fertilizer at monopoly rigged prices to India and China, as they have done with iron ore this past year. In the last couple years, Vale bought out the Rio Colorado potash project in Argentina and the Regina project in Saskatchewan from Rio Tinto for $850 million -- as part of a $1.6 billion war chest earmarked to acquire potash resources and fertilizer production facilities.

Workers need to discuss these developments based on their own real life experience with these global monopolies and shut out the noise of the apologists and public relations people who carry on 24-7 turning truth on its head, that the annexation and plunder of our resources is somehow beneficial and an "investment" without which we could not survive.

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Styrochem Workers in Baie-d'Urfé
Fight Company's Lockout

Styrochem workers in Baie d'Urfé near Montreal have been locked out since August 6. Styrochem is a U.S.-based manufacturer of expandable polystyrene (EPS) used in food services, packaging, construction, casting and specialty applications. At the start of negotiations for a new contract, the workers put forward their demands to limit subcontracting and supervisors doing their job. They also opposed the company's practice of creating "new" job classifications as a means of lowering the wages of the workers. Styrochem refused to negotiate and locked out the workers.

Posted below is an interview with Yvan Vernier who is the Chairperson of CEP Local 700 at Styrochem.

TML: Tell us about Styrochem.

Yvan Vernier: Styrochem is a polystyrene manufacturer based in Texas that serves the world market for this material. Polystyrene has several applications and here in Baie d'Urfé the polystyrene we make is used in the construction to extend Autoroute 30 [on Montreal's South Shore] and in construction in general, in the auto sector, in food services and so on. We are just over 30 production workers, all members of CEP Local 700. There are also office employees who are not unionized.

TML: What are the main issues in this lockout?

YV: This is not the first time that we've fought with Styrochem. The main thing is that they always try to bypass the union; they try to act as if there is no union. They did it in 2001, 2005 and are now doing it again.

They locked us out on August 6 after only 4 days of negotiations. They do not want to negotiate. They are saying that we do not have any demands but this is not true. What they want is to have total power in the plant to decide everything, namely subcontracting, inventing new job classifications as a way to lower wages and getting their supervisors to do our jobs. It is this power that we want to limit and they don't even want to talk to us about it.

These demands are important for us. We want to limit the ability of the company to subcontract our jobs. With the current contract, they can bring in any number of contractors. They could replace us all if they wanted.

There is the issue of the new job classifications they are introducing, for the wrappers for example. The workers are the same, but they suddenly fall into a new category within the category of wrappers and they get their wages cut. We want to limit the ability of the company to do that as well.

Then there is the category they call "aid." The current contract says that the company has the right to ask supervisors to help us do our jobs. What kind of language is that in a contract? In real life it means that the supervisors have the power to replace us. We are trying to limit these things but for Stryrochem these are not demands and they totally dismiss our concerns.

They went to the Labour Board in October to force a vote on their offer because our executive refused to submit the offer to the members. The Labour Board agreed with them and forced a vote on October 12. The offer was rejected by more than 90 percent and this after two months of lockout. We are not asking for the moon, but for something normal. The main thing is that since the beginning they have refused to recognize the union and they want to run the place without the union.

We are still strong and we are picketing and we need all the support we can get. We were at the September CEP Convention in Toronto in numbers and our members were encouraged to see the support they got, including financial support. We met workers in all the sectors that CEP represents and we were able to see that the workers are under attack everywhere and fighting everywhere whether in big or small workplaces.

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No to NATO! NATO Out of Afghanistan! Dismantle NATO!

Mass Demonstration in Lisbon Opposes
NATO Plans for Militarization and War

Lisbon, Portugal, November 20, 2010

On November 20, some 30,000 people marched through Lisbon on the Avenida de la Libertad, to collectively express their rejection of the aggressive NATO alliance, and its preparations for war. At the front of the march was a banner declaring "Peace Yes! NATO No!" with many other signs and slogans denouncing NATO and calling for its dissolution and an end to nuclear arms. More than 100 organizations were represented, including many unions and some political parties, such as the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP). Participants came from across the country, with banners indicating their city or region as well as from other parts of Europe and beyond.

The protest was marked by heavy security, with dozens of police vehicles and hundreds of officers equipped with riot gear which provocatively attempted to stop the march on more than one occasion and prevented others from joining in the main march.

A civil disobedience action was held under the slogan "NATO Game Over" where protestors blocked an intersection to prevent NATO delegates from attending the Summit. Riot police arrested 42 people who have now all been released.

Campaigners from Portugal, other European countries and Canada said in a statement: "We are using civil disobedience to highlight the violence committed by NATO in Afghanistan. They are meeting here today to perfect their arsenal of destruction."

Activists report that authorities stopped some 200 people from entering Portugal to participate in the anti-NATO actions claiming this was to prevent "violence" since Tuesday, when they revived border checks on the border with EU partner Spain for the first time since 2004. The only violence was from the police themselves as well as that of the NATO alliance itself.

The march concluded with a rally where several personalities addressed the crowd including Helena Barbosa, of the National Preparatory Committee for the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students, Socorro Gomes, President of the World Peace Council, Rui Namorado of the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers and Francisco Lopes, the presidential candidate of the Communist Party of Portugal. Lopes stated that NATO must be dismantled and that it is the duty of the president of the country to uphold the Constitution to ensure that peace is maintained.

(Apporrea; Photos: PCP, Yes to Peace! Not to NATO, PAGAN, Press TV)

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Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver Actions Oppose Extension of Canada's Afghan Mission

Toronto, November 20, 2010

Canadians opposing Canada's ongoing involvement in the war on Afghanistan took part in actions on Saturday. In Ottawa, demonstrators held a mass-leafleting action and a picket outside the Prime Minister's Office at Elgin and Wellington. In Vancouver, people demonstrated outside Liberal MP Hedy Fry's office.

The Toronto action was held at Dundas Square in the heart of downtown. The mass leafleting and picket were met with a positive response from the thousands of people who passed by, reflecting the majority will of Canadians to end the mission and bring the troops home now. In addition to their banners, participants militantly chanted slogans throughout the picket such as "End the Occupation, Troops Out Now!" and others which drew the attention and support of people walking by.

One speaker from the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War pointed out that after a decade of war, very little in the way of physical territory and the hearts and minds of ordinary Afghans is under the control of the occupying forces. Many denounced the deal-making in the Canadian Parliament to extend the Canadian participation in the occupation of Afghanistan beyond 2011 under the hoax that the Canadian military was going to play "a training role."

A youth from Afghans for Peace, an organization of Canadians and residents of Afghan origin stated that there is no way U.S. imperialism and its allies like Canada will win the war in Afghanistan because it is an unjust war that the Afghan people do not want. He demanded that all occupation forces leave and let the Afghan people sort out their own future themselves. Many people signed and took petitions and postcards as a way to continue the work to demand that the government and their MPs represent their will to end Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan.

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Mass Demonstration in Britain Demands
"Bring the Troops Home Now!"

Thousands of people from across Britain marched through central London on November 20 to demand an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan and the British mission which is to continue until 2015. The demonstration, held under the slogan "Afghanistan: Time to Go," was called by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British Muslim Initiative.

As the march moved through the streets from Hyde Park, protestors voiced the sentiment that troops should not have been sent to occupy Afghanistan in the first place and that they should be brought home at once.

At the concluding rally in Trafalgar Square, speakers condemned the government cuts that have been made on the pretext that there is no money available and demanded that the billions being spent on the military be used to increase support for social services.

(Stop the War Coalition UK, Workers' Daily)

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