[Sudbury Union] 6500 wins labour ruling – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – October 11, 2011)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.  cmulligan@thesudburystar.com

The Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled that two Steelworkers pulled from a union committee investigating the June deaths of two Stobie miners be returned to work on the investigation.

United Steelworkers Local 6500 filed a complaint to the labour board after Vale Ltd. ordered two of five union committee members back to their jobs, charging the company was interfering in its investigation. It asked the Ministry of Labour to order the reinstatement of the members.

When it refused, the union went to the labour board, which made its ruling last week. The ministry is heading an investigation into the deaths of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, on June 8. They were crushed by a run of broken rock and water while working in the No. 7 ore pass of the mine’s 3,000-foot level about 10:30 p.m.

Vale is conducting its own investigation into the deaths, as are Steelworkers and Greater Sudbury Police.

Chenier had 11 years’ experience as a miner, while Fram had six years.

The Labour ministry has frozen the site. While investigators from all teams have been in the area where the men were killed, they have not yet visited the exact spot where the accident occurred.

Ministry spokesman Matt Blajer said the location is still unstable and the ministry hasn’t released it yet. When it does, police and a coroner will likely be the first officials on the scene.

Vale was paying the wages of five union members to sit on Local 6500’s investigation team, but called two back to work saying they were needed on the job.

Vale had been asking the union for a timeline, said Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand, but the union insisted it was not going to rush its investigation.

The board appointed a labour relations specialist to meet with union and company representatives in Sudbury last week.

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