Vale Mine Workers Stage Protests as Iron Rout Eats Bonuses

  • Workers are protesting non-payment of profit-sharing bonus
  • Blockades were cleared by 2 p.m. local time, Vale says

Vale SA workers held protests at several of the company’s Brazilian iron-ore mines on Tuesday seeking a bonus that wasn’t paid after slumping prices eroded earnings.

Blockades organized by the Metabase Belo Horizonte union prevented other personnel from entering operations in the state of Minas Gerais, the world’s biggest iron-ore miner said by e-mail. The protests were cleared by 2 p.m. local time, it said. Seven mines and two railway terminals were targeted, an official briefed on the matter said.

The strike was halted while negotiations with Vale take place, Union President Sebastiao Alves de Oliveira said by telephone. Union leaders are scheduled to meet again on Feb. 29 to discuss any additional strikes or protests.

Workers are seeking payment of a profit-sharing bonus that Vale says it’s not required to give under a labor accord signed by the union. The strike comes two days before Vale is scheduled to report 2015 earnings, which were pummeled by a 39 percent annual slump in prices of the steel-making ingredient amid slowing demand from China.

Vale, based in Rio de Janeiro, didn’t say how output was affected while the union union said it halted production for the duration of the protest.

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