"This is a battle for jobs and the future of this region" - Daniel Roy
ALMA, QC - Daniel Roy, Quebec Director of the Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW), and his Assistant Director Guy Farrell, are in Alma, QC, today to rally union members locked out of their jobs by Rio Tinto Alcan.
The Steelworkers leaders will meet with the locked-out workers at 1 p.m. today on a picket line adjacent to the local union's offices and the giant Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter.
Daniel Roy will update the locked-out workers on the union's plans to ramp up the battle against Rio Tinto Alcan, which forced nearly 800 workers onto picket lines on New Year's Day rather than continue attempts to negotiate a new contract. The workers are members of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9490.
"This is a just and critical battle for decent jobs in this region," said Roy, adding his union is preparing to expand the fight against Rio Tinto outside Quebec.
"The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos is ready to wage this battle not only in this region but everywhere that Rio Tinto operates across the globe, with the support our fellow workers across North America and around the world," he said.
Roy said he has met with United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard to discuss plans for a global campaign against Rio Tinto "and we will be unveiling details in the near future."
The union already has begun receiving pledges of support from international unions, including one of Australia's largest unions that also has been forced to fight Rio Tinto's anti-labour agenda, Roy noted.
The locked-out Quebec workers' "courage and principles" in their struggle against "one of the world's most-hostile and anti-union employers" have been praised in a letter sent by Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union.
"Rio Tinto raked in more than $14 billion in profits last year yet it continues to try to divide workers and weaken their working and living standards, all while increasing the salaries of its top executives," Howes said. "Our union also is fighting daily to try to negotiate a collective agreement at Rio Tinto's aluminum smelter in northern Tasmania."
Rio Tinto Alcan locked out its Quebec workers in the midst of contract negotiations, even though the workers were not demanding wage increases. The main issue for workers is defending good jobs over the long term, including limits on the extent of contracting out.
"These workers are fighting to provide our youth with the same working and living standards that they have," Daniel Roy said. "They decided not to take the money and run and forsake the future of others. They don't want this employer, which benefits tremendously from our energy resources, to slowly suffocate this region's economy by steadily replacing quality jobs with contracted-out work that pays up to 50-per-cent less."
The USW/Syndicat des Métallos, an FTQ affiliate, is Quebec's largest private-sector union, representing more than 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.
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For more information:
Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The offices of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9490 are located at 830 rue des Pins Ouest, Alma.