Noranda Bauxite settles workers' issues with three unions

Noranda Bauxite settles workers' issues with three unions

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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NORANDA Bauxite has been facing a few obstacles in keeping a leg up in the local bauxite/alumina industry. However the public-private partnership (PPP) entity has now settled all wage disputes with three leading trade unions representing its approximately 800 workers.

Although the negotiations with the three unions — Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Union of Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP and the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU) — lasted approximately two years, the new agreements are expected to maintain a high level of production at Noranda installations and critically reduce the threat of work stoppages for another two years, at least.

The last of the three agreements was signed last week with the UAWU, which represents the production staff, and will continue through to April 30, 2023. The agreement with the BITU, which represents clerical and administrative employees, will be the earliest to end, as it concludes on December 31 this year. The agreement with UTASP, which represents the supervisors, will end on December 31, 2022.

Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, formerly St Ann Bauxite Jamaica Limited and prior to that Kaiser Jamaica Bauxite Company, is a partnership between Noranda Bauxite Limited (NBL), a Jamaican limited liability company, and the Government of Jamaica. Noranda Bauxite Limited has a 49 per cent interest in the partnership and holds and operates the physical mining assets and operations. The Government of Jamaica owns the majority 51 per cent.

The negotiations led to an agreement with New Day which, according to Minister of Transport and Mining, Robert Montegue, was necessary to protect the interest of the Government and people of Jamaica, while considering the best options for all parties involved.

Noranda mines bauxite ore in St Ann, which is shipped to its plant at Gramercy, Louisiana, and refined into alumina (aluminum oxide). Noranda then converts the alumina into aluminum at its smelter in Missouri.

A concession from the Government permits Noranda Bauxite Limited to mine bauxite in Jamaica through 2030. However, there have been a few hiccups recently with anti-mining activists in the Cockpit Country insisting against any mining within that area.

However, with the labour issues now a part the long history of the bauxite company, which actually started in Jamaica as the once-giant American firm Kaiser Aluminum in 1967, Noranda can focus more on assuring Jamaicans of its corporate responsiveness, as well as making use of any possible growth fed by the insistent tariffs introduced by the Trump administration which should boost US demand for aluminum.

Noranda's company Chairman and CEO David D'Addario suggested, after the negotiations with the local trade unions concluded last week, that a strong relationship with them is necessary for the success of its Jamaican bauxite operations.

“When we acquired Noranda Bauxite and 50 years of mining rights in Jamaica, we committed to the Government that we would work to reach fair agreements and enhance the stability of our unionised workforce,” D'Addario said.

“These three union agreements demonstrate that we have fulfilled that promise, while helping to ensure that our employees remain among the most well-compensated in Jamaica,” he added.

The point was seconded by Delroy Dell, Noranda Bauxite's general manager, who noted that the workforce was the backbone of Noranda's operations in Jamaica.

“The negotiations were tough but fair, and we are proud to work cooperatively with these unions to strengthen our worker protections, and provide fair wages to all our employees,” Dell stated.

“I want to thank the union representatives, and our own executive team, for collaborating on these vital agreements,” he added.

Noranda Bauxite is the bauxite mining operation of New Day Aluminum Holdings, LLC, which also owns and operates Noranda Alumina, a smelter grade alumina refining operation in Gramercy, Louisiana. New Day also owns and operates Niche Chemical, which markets chemical-grade alumina in North America, along with specialty minerals businesses Niche Fused Alumina in La Bâthie, France and Niche Fused Magnesia in Hull, England.

New Day is principally owned by the partners of DADA Holdings. DADA is an investment and management company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that makes control investments and manages companies in basic industries, such as metals and mining.

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