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Investors Cautioned on Alcoa-Related ‘Controversies’

BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Aluminum giant Alcoa, embroiled in labour disputes affecting thousands of employees at operations in Quebec and Australia, has received an unenviable mention in the Controversies Journal published by corporate rating and research agency Vigeo Eiris.

The Vigeo Eiris report, published in late August, advises international investors of human resources “controversies” at Alcoa operations in North America and Australia. The report rates each controversy as having a “high level of severity.”

Alcoa owns a majority stake – 74.9% – of the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, Que., where 1,030 workers have been locked out of their jobs for eight months, as the company attempts to extract concessions in collective bargaining. The locked-out workers are represented by the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos).

Alcoa also has provoked a labour dispute in Western Australia, where 1,600 members of the Australian Workers Union are on the picket line to resist the company’s attacks on their job security.

The Vigeo Eiris report to investors comes as United Steelworkers representatives prepare for a meeting tomorrow with Alcoa management at the company’s global headquarters in Pittsburgh.

“When a corporation is keeping thousands of workers on the street at opposite ends of the planet, that should trigger alarm bells about its commitment to corporate social responsibility,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, representing the locked-out ABI employees.

“We’re hoping that Alcoa’s executives are beginning to feel the heat and they are willing to seriously pursue avenues to settle this dispute,” Masse said.

The 1,030 employees at Alcoa’s ABI smelter were locked out on Jan. 11 of this year, even though the union believed a contract settlement was close at hand, with only two outstanding issues – pension plan changes and language related to seniority and employee turnover.

To date the ABI lockout has deprived Hydro-Québec – the province’s publicly owned utility – of $143 million in revenues.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

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For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers Communications, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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