Vale plans to have a new operational model in place in Thompson by November, but how many fewer hourly and staff jobs there will be as a result remains unknown.
Vale Thompson manager Franco Cazzola announced in June that Manitoba Operations was undertaking a comprehensive review that would result in job cuts after losing roughly $300,000 per day – approximately $100 million a year – in 2019.
“Vale’s Manitoba Operations is in the final stages of an organizational review focused on developing solutions that will ensure the long-term viability of our Manitoba Operations,” said Cazzola in a statement emailed to the Thompson Citizen Sept. 18. “Outcomes from this comprehensive review will guide adjustments to our operating model to introduce a simpler, nimbler structure to ensure a sustainable business.”
United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166, which represents about 550 hourly workers at Vale’s mines and mill in Thompson, does not yet know how many of its members could lose their jobs as a result of the transition to a new operating model.
Overall, including non-unionized staff, there were about 870 employees in Vale’s Manitoba Operations at the end of 2018, a year that saw 250 layoffs due to the permanent closure of the smelter and refinery and 180 jobs cut as a result of early retirements, resignations and the elimination of staff positions.
Vale says it has engaged with USW and other community stakeholders through the course of its operations review and is trying to minimize job losses where possible.
“We are considering every option, including a voluntary retirement incentive program to help mitigate job reductions and to ensure they will not impact the safety of our ongoing operations,” said Cazzola.
The company’s goals for the new operational model are to lower unit costs, improve health and safety outcomes and “support the team in meeting our short- and long-term business goals.”