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Company: Teck Cominco

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Special Report: Teck Cominco (Filed Report)

Date Class
21st Sep 2005 Questionable Business Practice
This report has been produced after a filed report by a striking employee of Teck Cominco.

Three days of mediated labor talks between Teck Cominco and striking workers at its Trail zinc and lead refinery in British Columbia have broken down again, the company said on Sunday 18th September 2005. Some 1,035 production and maintenance workers and 200 office and technical employees have been on industrial strike since July 19 when the company and the United Steelworkers union could not reach agreement on wages and pensions in a new labor contract.

Teck Cominco had presented the union with an improved offer, which included a 9 percent wage increase over three years, a "significant increase" in pension benefits and a signing bonus. This would move the average wage from about $25 to $27 an hour during the proposed three-year contract.

The striking workers feel they have been treated badly, one worker made his views clear "In 1990 cominco was a failed business, a thousand employees were laid off. Cominco got multi-million dollar tax breaks including municipal, regional, provincal and federal to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. For the past fifteen years we have accepted next to nothing in wages and benefits."

The company is now making record profits, with First Quarter net earnings of $205 million for this year, up from $96 million a year ago, and Second Quarter net earnings of $225 million, up from $116 million a year ago. At March 31, 2005, the company had a cash balance of $1.15 billion against total long-term debt of $623 million.

For the striking employees a wage increase of just 3% a year seems unjust. The worker continued "In 1990, Roger Watson manager of Trail Operations stood before us and gave our union president a blank check and said to us 'One day this company will be making obscene amounts of money and all the sacrificies will be rewarded to you and your families.' Well guess what, we have been on strike for two month now, why? Corporate greed! They have let down their employees, their families and the communities that helped these people survive."




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