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A union representing striking workers from Vale SA’s Sudbury, Ont., nickel mine recommended that its members reject the Brazilian company’s latest offer, saying it offered “minimal improvements.”

The 2,500 workers at the mine walked off the job on June 1, complaining about plans to cut health and medical benefits for retirees as well as minimal wage increases.

“Vale wants to lower the standard of living for retirees in our community,” United Steelworkers Local 6500 President Nick Larochelle said in a statement.

“Eliminating post-retirement health benefits from other staff is not a justification to take away these benefits from workers who are exposed to toxic and hazardous substances throughout their careers and who often develop serious illnesses and medical conditions in retirement.”

The union said the Sudbury workers were slated to vote on the new proposal later on Monday.

Vale said it was disappointed with the union’s recommendation, saying that its second offer had attempted to addresses issues of concern to workers including wages, pensions and post-retiree benefits.

“The company and the Union negotiated in good faith over a period of months leading to an initial offer that we believed, based on those discussions, represented the needs of our employees. Our new offer addresses the identified gaps,” Chief Operating Officer Dino Otranto said in the statement.

Vale was obliged to halt the mine after the workers rejected its initial offer. USW Local 6200, which represents employees at its separate Port Colborne refinery, favoured the proposed deal.

The Brazilian miner is trying to turn around its Ontario operations to lure investments in new sources of ore, Otranto added.

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