Steelworkers locked out by Rio Tinto Alcan demonstrate in Québec City during meetings of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board.
Québec City - About 100 locked-out workers and many other supporters are currently demonstrating outside the Québec City Convention Centre, which is hosting meetings of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board and SportAccord International's convention.
The demonstration is being held before 1,800 key decision-makers and people of influence within the Olympic movement, as well as 200 journalists from across the world.
Demonstrators are supporting 780 workers in Alma, Québec, who were illegally locked out by Rio Tinto Alcan in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve, 2011.
Rio Tinto is the official supplier of the metal used to produce the 4,700 Olympic medals for the London 2012 Games. Today's demonstration is part of the Off the Podium international campaign (Offthepodium.org) supported by many international unions and organizations.
Workers at Alma's aluminum smelter were locked out almost five months ago because they stood up against Rio Tinto's attempt to replace retiring unionized workers with contract workers earning half the wages and with no benefits or pensions.
"Rio Tinto's behaviour is failing to live up to the Olympic principles of fair play, friendship and solidarity," says Marc Maltais, President of United Steelworkers Local 9490 (Alma).
"The IOC must keep Rio Tinto off the Olympic podium," Maltais says. "Otherwise, Olympic medalists will be forced to wear medals tarnished by a company whose behaviour contradicts the ideals of the Olympic movement. A dark shadow will be cast over the Olympians' athletic achievements because of Rio Tinto and the way it treats its employees."
"Alma's workers are fighting to maintain decent jobs in their region, for future generations," says Réal Valiquette, United Steelworkers Area Coordinator for the Québec region. "The Alma plant is Rio Tinto's most profitable smelter in Québec. Why lock out 780 workers?"
In Alma, as in many other places around the world where Rio Tinto operates, the lockout directly contradicts the London 2012 Games Organizing Committee's commitment to delivering to the world "the most sustainable games ever."
As part of this campaign, close to 7,000 people earlier this week sent a letter to Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee, asking him to call upon Olympic decision-makers to remove Rio Tinto from the Olympic Podium and intervene on behalf of Rio Tinto Alcan's workers.
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