BECANCOUR, QC, June 26, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - The management of Aluminerie de Bécancour (ABI) today presented a new, comprehensive offer in a final attempt to end the 18-month labor dispute and bring employees back to work.
The smelter, which is owned by Alcoa (74.95%) and Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. (25.05%), has been operating at reduced capacity since January 11, 2018, after union members rejected a proposed labor contract for hourly employees. Representatives from ABI spoke at a news conference today, saying that the latest offer makes key adjustments to end the labor conflict.
If approved, the proposal would provide more funding to the pension, reduce subcontracting and allocate more paid hours for union business than the last offer, which was rejected in March. The proposal also includes a plan that will bring all employees back to work sooner, while providing certain benefits to those on the recall list. In addition to these changes, the offer allows everyone on lockout to return to work with annual wage increases that total 15.3 percent over the six-year contract.
"These changes are being made in the hope that the new offer will be ratified by the union members," said Nicole Coutu, ABI's President and Plant Manager. "We know the importance of the facility to the local economy, so we want a resolution that will allow ABI to continue to survive and thrive into the future."
The work stoppage has dragged on for 18 months, and ABI has tried direct negotiations, mediated sessions and other methods to implement the fundamental and reasonable changes needed to make ABI successful for the long-term. If this final offer is refused, ABI will need to make the difficult decision to curtail the remaining pots.
ABI's salaried employees have been operating half of the one potline, working with diligence and dedication to restore stability at the smelter and ensure it can be restarted in the event of a new labor agreement. However, ABI cannot safely operate this way indefinitely, and this is the final attempt to reach an agreement.
"We've reached a critical juncture in this process - we want to resolve the conflict for the benefit of all parties and work together to restart our smelter and get everyone back to work," said Jean-Francois Cyr, President of Alcoa Canada.
The new offer, which expires July 5, provides very competitive pay and benefits while also ensuring that this facility can compete well in a global market and catch up with its peers.
"We all share the goal of restarting this facility and ensuring its long-term competitiveness," said Gervais Jacques, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Canada. "But it requires that we all do our part to end the conflict. That is what today's offer is about."
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