Timminco, labor union come to terms, wage hikes postponed until May 2010

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Troubled solar materials supplier Timminco has ratified and approved the terms of a new collective bargaining deal with its hourly workforce at the company’s Becancour, Quebec, facilities. More than 93% of the unionized employees, who are represented by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 184, voted in favor of the new terms, which will apply for five years ending in April 2013.

Under the new agreement, wages will not increase from existing levels, which have been in effect since the expiration of the prior labor contract in April 2008, until May 2010. Wage hikes of 2.4%, 2.6%, and 2.8% will take effect annually in May 2010, May 2011, and May 2012, respectively. The company says it will also put in place new work schedules to enhance operational efficiencies at the Becancour factory.

“We are very pleased that our employees have shown such strong support for the new agreement,” said Rene Boisvert, president/CEO of Becancour Silicon, Timminco’s wholly owned subsidiary. “We have spent many months in negotiations with the union representatives, and thank them for their efforts in bringing us to an amicable agreement on the new contract. It provides long-term stability in the workforce, which positions the company well for the future when we see a recovery in the demand for silicon metal and solar-grade silicon.”

Timminco says that 275 of the 375 employees at its Becancour facilities are unionized. The company has begun temporary workforce reductions at these facilities as a result of the curtailment of production of silicon metal and the reduced production levels of solar-grade silicon under its cost containment initiative.

To date, 172 unionized employees have been given temporary layoff notices to bring employment levels in line with current production levels, although the company said that the extent and duration of such workforce reductions are uncertain.

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