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Union Wins Strike Against Cement Company

International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions
June 20th, 2002

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Kenneth S. Zinn, North American Regional Coordinator
Tel: (202) 974-8080/Fax: (202) 974-8084

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17 Local 219-O of the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) has emerged victorious in its six-month strike against cement giant Lafarge Inc. at the company's Bath, Ontario facility, with the union's membership ratifying a new agreement on Saturday by 77%.

The new four-year agreement includes gains for the workers in wages and pensions, the end to employment of all scabs hired during the strike, and a resolution to the disputed issues of overtime and subcontracting, including a commitment by the company to hire 17% more staff at the facility.

The overtime issue has been resolved through a voluntary system, the local union's website states. The contracting out language has been reworked in a way that actually strengthens our job security. The company has committed to hire 11 more persons and given a commitment to a minimum level of union members. Not only do both parties benefit from this agreement, but there are now a few more jobs available to the general workforce.

This is the best kind of union victory, said CEP Ontario Vice President Cec Makowski. Not only did we win on the wage front, but less hours means safer working conditions for these workers and more time with their families.

Other employers should take note of the priority our members and our union place on the hours of work issue, said Doug Chisholm, local union president. This small group stood up against a huge multinational company and they won.

I'm extremely proud of our members and our union which provided unwavering support throughout this difficult strike, he said.

The strike by the local's 65 members began against the cement maker on December 5, 2001. Lafarge Inc. is a subsidiary of Lafarge Group, based in Paris, France.

In addition to the support the CEP received from many Canadian unions, the union also gained the solidarity of unions outside of Canada. In the U.S., the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers and the Paper Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union, both of which represent Lafarge workers, mobilized in support of the CEP. In the United Kingdom, the GMB and the Transport & General Workers Union, which also represent Lafarge workers, did likewise. These unions are affiliated to the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions.

Union members are scheduled to return to work on July 2.

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Further information on the ICEM's North American activities can be found at http://www.icemna.org