Rio Tinto's Labour Practices Tainting Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Team Withdrawals in Protest
Burnaby, B.C. June 13, 2012 - The reprehensible labour practices of Rio Tinto are tainting the upcoming Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver, the United Steelworkers (USW), Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), and BC Federation of Labour said in a letter sent to the organizing committee today.
Rio Tinto has locked out 780 workers in Alma, Quebec, who have resisted attempts by the profitable corporation to replace retiring unionized workers with subcontractors earning half their wages, no pension and no benefits.
The United Steelworkers, who represent the workers in Alma, said that Rio Tinto's role as a title sponsor of the Dragon Boat Festival distracts from the sportsmanship and teamwork of dragon boat teams that wows families from across the Lower Mainland.
"Workers in Alma aren't just fighting for their own wages and benefits, but also to maintain the good jobs that have built their community and raised families. Rio Tinto is trying to reduce an entire community's standard of living," said Stephen Hunt, Western Canadian Director for the USW.
According to Susan Spratt, CAW Area Director, Rio Tinto is attempting the same attacks on members of CAW Local 2301 that work at Rio Tinto's aluminum smelter in Kitimat, B.C. "It's critical that we stand together to highlight the mean-spirited attacks of a very profitable company," said Spratt.
A Dragon Boat Team has already withdrawn from the festival because of Rio Tinto's actions. The Mavericks Dragon Boat Team from Harrison, B.C. said in a letter to the organizing committee that Rio Tinto is engaging in "an assault on both the workers' rights and on the living standards of their families."
"A dragon boat festival is the last group that should be supporting Rio Tinto in its race to the bottom," said BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair. "Good corporate citizens create family supporting jobs with our resources. They don't take them away as Rio Tinto is attempting to do."
Members of the USW, CAW and BC Federation of Labour plan to provide information about Rio Tinto's actions to attendees of the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.
Attached is a copy of the letter sent to the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Organizing Committee.
Brad West, USW Communications