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Unifor renews call on N.L. government to finally fix labour laws

May 17, 2018

ST. JOHN’S – Unifor reissues its call on the Newfoundland and Labrador government to fix labour laws, following a motion passed in the House of Assembly to address prolonged labour disputes in the private sector.

“Following the motion from the MHA from Labrador West, Unifor expects immediate action by the government. Anything less is simply unacceptable for the workers in this province,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.

Letto’s motion is in response to a two-month strike at the Rio Tinto mine in his district. The motion urged the government to consult with unions and employers to “identify measures” that would help to avoid long strikes or lockouts.

Currently 30 Unifor Local 597 members have been locked out for 17 months by their U.S.-based employer.  D-J Composites has twice been found guilty of breaking the province’s labour laws, including bargaining in bad faith. The employer has faced no consequences for its violations.

“How much more evidence does the Ball government need to show that the labour laws in the province are broken than a 500-plus-day lock-out? It is shameful that it took this long for anyone on the Liberal side to recognize there is a problem,” said Payne.

Unifor stands in solidarity with the Steelworkers in Labrador West and has been advocating that the provincial government implement the recommendations of the Voisey’s Bay inquiry and it must modernize labour laws to restore balance to the labour relations system.

After three separate requests for a meeting with Premier Dwight Ball to discuss the Local 597 lockout, Payne said she has come to the conclusion that this government lacks the political will to deal with serious problems impacting workers’ rights, such as the Gander labour dispute.

“Perhaps the MHA for the Gander area can take a page from Mr. Letto’s book and stand up for the workers in his district here in Gander,” said Ignatius Oram, Unifor Local 597 unit chair at D-J Composite facility in Gander.

For more information, please contact Unifor Atlantic Communications representative Natalie Clancy at or (902) 478-9283 (cell).