MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadian Rio Tinto lockout nears one month

Published by MAC on 2012-01-31
Source: International Miners Federation (IMF), Syndicat des Métallos

Canadian Rio Tinto lockout nears one month

By Rainer Santi

International Miners Federation (IMF) statement

25 January 2012

On January 1, 2012, Rio Tinto's aluminium subsidiary Alcan locked out 780 members of United Steelworkers at its smelter and refinery in Alma, Québec. The company refuses to negotiate limits on contract work.

CANADA: The company wants to have unlimited contracting out rights, and has replaced full-time, USW-represented workers with subcontracting employees, at considerably worse conditions, when they retire. Subcontracted work in the company is expected to increase from 10 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2012. The USW wants to create a floor of 750 permanent jobs at the Alma site.

Use of scab or replacement workers during a labour dispute is forbidden in Québec law. According to the company the site is now run at one third of capacity with the help of 200 "management" personnel. USW has lodged a complaint with the provincial labour board.

The IMF and ICEM have sent a strong protest to Rio Tinto's CEO Tom Albanese; "It is unprecedented in North America for a company to demand that a trade union accept the replacement of all permanent positions when workers retire with contract employees."

Affiliates are urged to also send letters to Albanese (with copies to IMF, ICEM and USW), making their opinions clear. See a model letter here.

Letters can be faxed to the Rio Tinto offices in London (+44 20 7781 1800) and Melbourne (+62 3 9283 3707), with copies to IMF, ICEM and USW.

See a detailed background to the dispute here.


Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos /USW Communications, 514-774-4001,;
Joe Drexler, Syndicat des Métallos/USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544 6009, 416-434 7907,

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