ALMA, QC, March 14, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Marc Maltais, the head of Local 9490, and Guy Farrell, Assistant to the Quebec USW/Syndicat des Métallos Director, met with several hundred locked out workers this morning to convey to them the immense wave of solidarity they sensed on every stop of their recent mission. Over a space of three weeks, the two unionists held a series of meetings with fellow union members, many of them Rio Tinto employees, in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
"While we were gone, many people accused us of traveling the world to tarnish the company's image. Even if this was our intent, it would have been impossible because RTA's image with regard to respect for workers has already taken hits from all sides. From Boron, California - where Rio Tinto locked out its workers in 2010 - to our fellow members in New Zealand or the Maritime Union of Australia, which represents a number of Rio Tinto employees, people were already aware of how far this company's anti-union practices have gone," explained Marc Maltais.
At every stop on their trip, they explained the nature of the conflict, garnered moral and financial support, and were encouraged to lead this battle in order to preserve quality jobs in the region. "The men and women of Alma have chosen to resist the erosion of their jobs, while deciding to demand respect from this multinational, which benefits from our electricity to run one of the most profitable manufacturing plants in the world. Unionists from all over know that, if Rio Tinto manages to beat us down here, this will embolden the company to attack all the other unions on the planet. From the U.S. to Australia, the entire union community realizes how important it is that we stick together. And this solidarity will surely be felt in Alma on March 31," stressed Guy Farrell, Assistant to the Quebec USW/Syndicat des Métallos Director.
Representatives of the unions that met with the two, including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Australian Workers Union, the CFMEU (Australia's Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) and other labour groups around the world will be in Alma on Saturday, March 31, for a vast solidarity demonstration.
"You know, even on the other side of the world, people were watching what was happening here. The company's statements to the effect that the fruit still needs to ripen… Well, they shouldn't wait for the fruit to rot on the trees before coming to negotiate in good faith. The expressions of solidarity we heard on our trip will only grow with time," asserted Guy Farrell.
The USW/Syndicat des Métallos, an FTQ affiliate, is Quebec's largest private-sector union. Its members - numbering more than 60,000 - work in all sectors of the economy (mines, metallurgy, industrial manufacturing, security, the hotel and restaurant business, trucking, taxis, etc.).
For further information:
USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ)
For more information:
Clairandrée Cauchy 514 774-4001, [email protected]
Head of communications
Local 9490: 418-662-7055