Rio Tinto's Labour Practices Tainting Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon Boat Team Withdraws in Protest
BURNABY, BC, June 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The reprehensible labour practices of Rio Tinto are tainting the upcoming Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver, the United Steelworkers (USW), Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), and BC Federation of Labour said in a letter sent to the organizing committee today.
Rio Tinto has locked out 780 workers in Alma, Quebec, because they have resisted attempts by the profitable corporation to replace retiring unionized workers with subcontractors earning half their wages and no benefits.
The USW, which represents the Alma workers, say Rio Tinto's role as a title sponsor of the Dragon Boat Festival distracts from the sportsmanship and teamwork of dragon boat teams that wow families from across the Lower Mainland.
"Workers in Alma aren't just fighting for their own wages and benefits, but also to maintain the good jobs that have built their community and raised families. Rio Tinto is trying to reduce an entire community's standard of living," said Stephen Hunt, Western Canadian Director for the USW.
Rio Tinto is attempting the same attacks on CAW Local 2301 members who work at Rio Tinto's aluminum smelter in Kitimat, B.C., said Susan Spratt, CAW Area Director.
"It's critical that we stand together to highlight the mean-spirited attacks of a very profitable company," said Spratt.
A team has already withdrawn from the Dragon Boat Festival because of Rio Tinto's actions. The Mavericks Dragon Boat Team from Harrison, B.C. said in a letter to the organizing committee that Rio Tinto is engaging in "an assault on both the workers' rights and on the living standards of their families."
"A dragon boat festival is the last group that should be supporting Rio Tinto in its race to the bottom," said BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair. "Good corporate citizens create family supporting jobs with our resources. They don't take them away as Rio Tinto is attempting to do."
Members of the USW, CAW and BC Federation of Labour plan to provide information about Rio Tinto's actions to attendees of the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.
Attached is a copy of the letter sent to the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Organizing Committee.
Brad West, USW Communications