23:33 | 16.10.2020
Trade Tribunal Decision a Breakthrough for Steelworkers
A recent decision by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) to renew an existing order on dumped steel products from China, Turkey and South Korea is a significant breakthrough and proof that the union has a key role in determining injury to Canada’s domestic steel industry, say leaders of the United Steelworkers union (USW).
“The decision reflects evidence provided by our members in hearings before the CITT earlier this year,” says USW National Director Ken Neumann. “It reinforces our campaign for full standing in launching trade cases. Our union and its members play an essential role in determining the impact of unfair trade. The CITT has recognized that in this written decision.”
Neumann noted that trade unions in other countries, such as the U.S., have the right to initiate cases. In the meantime, in Canada, the union’s ability to participate in cases brought by companies, has meant USW members can give evidence through public witness statements.
Yves Rolland, president of Local 6951 at ArcelorMittal Long Products in Contrecoeur, Que., said workers have a unique and important vantage point from which to view the results of dumped offshore steel. “Workers on the ground are among the first to see the effects of a dumped product that has entered the market, threatening jobs and communities,” he said. “The need to maintain restrictions is important for the viability of steel production in Quebec and for hundreds of good jobs.”
John Catto, President of Local 6571 at Gerdau Steel in Whitby, Ont., added, “When prices are undercut by increased volumes distorting our markets, we know that injury to the domestic industry means our members are going to suffer. Collective bargaining becomes more difficult and the relationship with the company also suffers. These trade practices are about more than business. They are about communities and an economy that works for people.”
Paul Perreault, President of Local 5220 at AltaSteel in Edmonton, says steel dumping has reduced employment in Alberta, which has already lost all production at Calgary’s Tenaris Prudential pipe plant.
“Whether it’s rebar or other products, Canada needs a strong steel industry,” said Perreault, whose union local has existed at the Edmonton plant for more than 60 years. “We are proud of the products our members make. In the case of rebar, we know that material injury also means dumped products from low-wage producers going into construction projects. That is neither wise nor sustainable.”
Since the union has gained the right to participate in tribunal proceedings over the last four years, the majority of cases have meant positive rulings for workers against dumped steel and in turn have earned the USW credibility as an important party in trade remedy cases initiated by companies.
The USW is currently meeting with individual Members of Parliament to secure not only the right to initiate trade cases, but also to expand the definition of ‘material injury’ in such cases to include the impact of unfair trade on workers. The campaign also seeks to establish a carbon border adjustment on imported steel and to demand the use of Canadian-made steel in infrastructure projects.
“The most recent CITT ruling is an important step forward,” said Neumann. “It is legal recognition that the pressure on pensions and benefits by dumped goods constitutes injury to the industry as a whole.”
For more information on the union’s campaign to “Stand Up For Canadian Steel” go to https://www.usw.ca/act/campaigns/standupforsteel/resources/Steel_Action_LOW.pdf
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