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Locked-Out ABI Employees to Demonstrate at Leaders’ Debate

MONTREAL – Forced onto picket lines since Jan. 11 of this year, locked-out workers from the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour will rally today outside the Quebec leaders’ debate in Montreal, demanding commitments to help resolve an eight-month labour dispute.

    WHO: Locked-out workers from the ABI aluminum smelter

    WHAT: Demonstration outside the Quebec leaders’ debate

    WHEN: Thursday, Sept 13, 5:15 p.m.

    WHERE: Maison de Radio-Canada, 1400 René-Lévesque Blvd. East

The locked-out workers, members of Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, are urging Quebec party leaders to get more involved in resolving the bargaining deadlock with multinational giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto – co-owners of the ABI smelter.

The Steelworkers have condemned the hydro contract between the ABI smelter and publicly owned Hydro-Québec that allows Alcoa and Rio Tinto to pass along the bill for their lockout to the people of Quebec.

To date, the lockout has deprived Hydro-Québec – and by extension all Quebecers – of $148 million in revenues.

The ABI smelter has been allowed to avoid its hydro contract obligations by invoking a case of force majeure, due to its own decision to lock out its employees. The force majeure clause also allows the smelter to escape a $42-million fine that would normally be levied due to lower production.

“The dispute has been going on for more than eight months. The biased contracts with the Government of Quebec are creating an imbalance in the power relationship between the company and the locked-out workers,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, which represents 1,030 ABI employees.

“We have been taken hostage. The entire Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions are suffering, and all Quebecers have been left with the bill. The next premier needs to step in and restore a balance. This is an issue that concerns all future members of the National Assembly,” Masse said.

The lockout triggered by ABI on Jan. 11 centres on two key issues – respecting seniority rights in cases of employee turnover and pension plan funding.

Affiliated with the FTQ, 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, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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Clairandrée Cauchy
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