Quebec Labour Minister Proposes Settlement in 15-Month ABI Lockout

QUEBEC CITY – The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW) will take the next few days to review a proposal from Quebec’s Labour Minister aimed at resolving a 15-month lockout of workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour.

Labour Minister Jean Boulet presented the proposed settlement today in a meeting with Dominic Lemieux, assistant to the Steelworkers’ Quebec Director, and Clément Masse, President of USW Local 9700, which represents 1,030 workers who have been locked out of their jobs at the ABI plant since January 2018.

The labour minister’s proposal also has been presented to ABI management. To have any effect, such a settlement proposal must be accepted by both parties in a labour dispute.

USW representatives will not comment on the minister’s proposal while they review the document over the next few days.

Earlier this month, after Quebec Premier François Legault publicly sided with the company’s position demanding massive concessions from workers, ABI summarily rejected a compromise proposal put forward by the Steelworkers.

Emboldened by the premier’s support, ABI also rejected a resumption of negotiations as well as the option of pursuing arbitration to resolve the dispute.

ABI is co-owned by aluminum giants Alcoa (75% stake) and Rio Tinto (25%). The two multinationals decided to lock out the ABI workers on Jan. 11, 2018, and have since made increasing demands for concessions.

ABI’s lockout has resulted in revenue losses of more than $165 million for the province’s publicly owned utility, Hydro-Québec.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, affiliated with the FTQ, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers from all economic sectors.


For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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