Wednesday August 24, 2016
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 24, 2016
Locals outraged at Ottawa’s “deafening silence” on steel industry
Union leaders, Opposition MPs and even the Chamber of Commerce are pressing the federal government to help Canada’s struggling steel industry.
Two Hamilton Members of Parliament, three chambers of commerce and union leaders at the local and provincial levels separately have called for help for the industry and especially for retirees and workers in Hamilton.
NDP MPs Scott Duvall (Hamilton Mountain) and Dave Christopherson (Hamilton Centre) have written to Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, saying the federal government has stayed on the sidelines too long.
“To date, your government has not been tangibly involved in any way to help protect the jobs, benefits and pensions of current and former employees of USSC/Stelco despite commitments previously made by colleagues and the Prime Minister” they wrote. “Workers, pensioners, the business community and the City of Hamilton have all appealed for your help. So far, you and your government have been missing in action.”
As a start, they want the government to release the “secret deal” that ended a lawsuit against U.S. Steel for breaking the production and employment promises it made to get government approval for the acquisition.
They also back a call by the United Steelworkers union for a public inquiry into Canadian bankruptcy law they say favours creditors at the expense of workers and retirees, and the 2007 takeover of Stelco by U.S. Steel. Duvall has raised the issue in Parliament several times.
U.S. Steel Canada, the former Stelco, has been under creditor protection since Sept. 16, 2014. It is seeking a buyer for the mills in Hamilton and Nanticoke.
On the business front, chambers of commerce in Hamilton, Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie are taking a joint resolution to the Canadian chamber’s national convention calling for a policy to protect the industry from unfair foreign competition.
“The biggest issue for us is dumping from China,” said Hamilton Chamber of Commerce president Keanin Loomis. “Obviously there’s a real issue of fairness there.”
Products are dumped in foreign markets when they are sold for less than their costs of production or with subsidies from a government.
“What we want is a level playing field in the global production and procurement process,” added Rory Ring, executive director of the Sault chamber. “We’re competing against companies that are either government owned or that operate with less than reasonable environmental and labour laws.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)