MONTREAL, Feb. 17, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Over 300 locked-out Rio Tinto Alcan workers and sympathetic steelworkers demonstrated today at noon in front of the Sheraton Hotel, as the Chief Executive of RTA, Jacynthe Côté, was speaking at a Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal luncheon.
The theme of the lunch was "The Importance of the Role of Businesses in Supporting the Relief Workforce." Daniel Roy, Quebec Director of the Syndicat des Métallos (United Steelworkers/USW), was critical. "It's strange to see the RTA boss saying such wonderful things about the relief workforce, when the company intends to replace retired workers in Alma with contractors at half the salary, around $14 or $15 an hour," he said.
"Before it became illegal in Quebec, companies used to impose orphan clauses on us, hiring young people at a lower wage than others. Now RTA is trying to do the same thing by replacing direct hires with contract workers," continued Mr. Roy.
Marc Maltais, President of Local 9490, stated that the company has a kind of social pact with the area's residents. "In exchange for low-cost electricity, the company has a moral duty to provide good jobs, and this has a ripple effect on the entire regional economy. Today the company is trying to destroy this social pact. They locked us out 24 hours before they were even entitled to, on December 30th, and are trying to force us to accept their plan to give the young people who come on board poorer conditions than us. It won't fly," he said.
The buses carrying the locked-out workers will stop in Sorel on their way home for a quick demonstration of solidarity with their fellow members at Rio Tinto QIT and Steel and Powders. The locked-out workers will be in front of the factory gates in Sorel at about 3 p.m.
The 780 workers at the RTA aluminum smelter in Alma have been locked out since December 30, 2011. The Syndicat des Métallos, an FTQ affiliate, is Quebec's largest private-sector union, representing over 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy (mines, metallurgy, lumber, industrial manufacturing, security, hotels and restaurants, trucking, taxi companies, etc.).
For further information:
Source: Syndicat des Métallos/United Steel Workers (FTQ)
Information: Clairandrée Cauchy 514 774-4001, [email protected]