July 12, 2012
United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9490 members have ratified a new collective agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan in Alma Quebec, after being locked out for six months.
Rio Tinto angered trade unionists and labour rights groups throughout the world with the ruthless social agenda of its subsidiary Rio Tinto Alcan in Central Québec. Rio Tinto wanted to hire new smelter workers in Alma at 50% of current wage levels and with almost no benefits, as unionized workers retire. When the 780-strong workforce turned down that concession, the company locked them out.
"We were forced to take on the third-largest mining company in the world and we won," said USW President Leo Gerard. "Many thought this was impossible, given the power imbalance, but we sent a message to the resource industry throughout the world that workers and their unions can take on huge multinational corporations to stop unjust demands."
Over 50 trade unions from around the world have taken action in support of the USW campaign to kick Rio Tinto “Off the Podium”, after the company supplied the metal for medals at the London Olympics. Although the union has achieved a victory in Alma, the campaign to rein in Rio Tinto Alcan globally continues.