Rio Tinto's European workers support those locked out in Alma

European Works Council pressures CEO to negotiate in good faith

MONTRÉAL, Feb. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - In a letter to the CEO of Rio Tinto, Tom Albanese, the Rio Tinto European Works Council asked him to urge the local managers of Rio Tinto Alcan to "negotiate in good faith" in order to put an end to the lockout of 780 workers at Alma, who have been out of work since December 30.

The Council, which comprises representatives elected by Rio Tinto's workers at its European facilities as well as delegates from various union organizations, denounced the company's stubborn insistence on using outsourcing. It displays "a lack of vision that can only lead to the destruction of the social fabric of the community," wrote European Works Council Secretary Véronique Roche.

Ms. Roche described the Lac-Saint-Jean lockout as "a destructive and socially irresponsible position" and a "direct attack on the workers' families." She warned, "Our European organization will stand alongside the USW in every effort organized in Europe and elsewhere and will participate in the USW's fight to repel such anti-social attacks."

Rio Tinto's European workers are also worried about the future of two European plants threatened with closure in Saint-Jean-Maurienne, France and Lynemouth, England.

"In this context of worldwide economic crisis, any attempt by Rio Tinto and its shareholders to finance extraordinary profit by locking out employees, awarding low-price subcontracts or redistributing energy surpluses will be firmly condemned," said the spokeswoman for Rio Tinto's European workers.

The letter is part of an international solidarity campaign to support the workers at Rio Tinto Alcan's Alma aluminum smelter, laid off on December 30, 2011. The conflict is over outsourcing, with the company wanting to gradually replace unionized workers with subcontractors who would be paid half the wages.

A copy of the letter is available on demand.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy 514 774-4001,
Bob Gallagher 416 434-2221

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