Striking smelter workers taking fight to Switzerland

Some striking workers from Glencore's Brunswick Smelter in Belledune are taking their fight overseas later this week.

The workers plan to denounce what they feel is an attack on their health & safety as well as workplace rights at the company's annual general meeting in Switzerland on Thursday.

United Steelworkers' Bart Dempsey says years of sacrifices by workers, and their families, have not been reciprocated in good-faith at the bargaining table or in the workplace.

For several years, Dempsey says, members have accepted concessions and worked with the company to make the smelter a success, but that Glencore has responded with a management culture that has become increasing hostile and is demanding more concessions.

Approximately 280 smelter employees are represented by the union and have been without a contract since February.

The workers have been on strike since the end of April after having voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action.

Among the key issues are pensions, benefits, safety representation, and the union's ability to represent workers.

Dempsey says the union is ready and willing to resume negotiations, provided Glencore remove concessions for workers from the table.

IndustriALL Global Union, meanwhile, an international labour federation representing more than 50 million workers, including United Steelworkers members, is demanding Glencore end the lockout and commit to a negotiated settlement with its workers.