Apr 18, 2019

Quebec labour minister proposes settlement in 15-month ABI lockout

Labour relations
Company rejected earlier proposal by union: USW

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW) will take the next few days to review a proposal from Quebec’s Labour Minister made on April 17, aimed at resolving a 15-month lockout of workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour.

Labour Minister Jean Boulet presented the proposed settlement in a meeting with Dominic Lemieux, assistant to the USW Quebec director and Clément Masse, president of USW, Local 9700, which represents 1,030 workers who have been locked out of their jobs at the ABI plant since January 2018, said the union.

The labour minister’s proposal also has been presented to ABI management, said USW.

Earlier this month, after Quebec Premier François Legault publicly sided with the company’s position demanding massive concessions from workers, ABI rejected a proposal put forward by the USW, said the union.

ABI also rejected a resumption of negotiations as well as the option of pursuing arbitration to resolve the dispute, said USW.

ABI is co-owned by Alcoa (75 per cent stake) and Rio Tinto (25 per cent). The two companies locked out the ABI workers on Jan. 11, 2018, and have since made increasing demands for concessions, said the union.

ABI’s lockout has resulted in revenue losses of more than $165 million for the province’s publicly owned utility, Hydro-Québec.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, affiliated with the FTQ, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers from all economic sectors.
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