Management of Aluminerie de Bécancour (ABI) presented a new offer on June 26 in a final attempt to end the 18-month labour dispute and bring employees back to work at Becancour, Que.
The smelter — which is owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan — has been operating at reduced capacity since Jan. 11, 2018, after union members rejected a proposed labour contract for hourly employees. Representatives from ABI spoke at a news conference, saying that the latest offer makes key adjustments to end the conflict, said the company.
If approved, the proposal would provide more funding to the pension, reduce subcontracting and allocate more paid hours for union business than the last offer, which was rejected in March. The proposal also includes a plan that will bring all employees back to work sooner, while providing certain benefits to those on the recall list. In addition to these changes, the offer allows everyone on lockout to return to work with annual wage increases that total 15.3 per cent over the six-year contract, said ABI.
“These changes are being made in the hope that the new offer will be ratified by the union members,” said Nicole Coutu, ABI president and plant manager. “We know the importance of the facility to the local economy, so we want a resolution that will allow ABI to continue to survive and thrive into the future.”
The work stoppage has dragged on for 18 months and ABI has tried direct negotiations, mediated sessions and other methods to implement the fundamental and reasonable changes needed to make ABI successful for the long-term. If this final offer is refused, ABI will need to make the difficult decision to curtail the remaining pots, said the company.
ABI’s salaried employees have been operating half of the one potline, working to restore stability at the smelter and ensure it can be restarted in the event of a new labour agreement. However, ABI cannot safely operate this way indefinitely, and this is the final attempt to reach an agreement, said ABI.
The new offer, which expires July 5, provides competitive pay and benefits while also ensuring that this facility can compete well in a global market and catch up with its peers, said the company.
The workers are represented by Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW).
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