Outraged at Attacks on Canadian Workers
TORONTO, March 2, 2012 /CNW/ - On February 29, three global union federations whose affiliates comprise over 50 million union members unanimously adopted a resolution to conduct a global campaign against Rio Tinto for the illegal lockout of 800 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) in Alma, Quebec.
The three global federations include the International Metal Workers Federation, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Unions, and International Garment Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation.
The resolution cited Rio Tinto's demand that all retiring workers from the Quebec aluminum smelter be replaced by non-union contract workers at half the wages and no benefits. "The loss of union members will in time eliminate the legitimate power of the union to protect workers and their community from further draconian cuts," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada. The resolution stated, "the City of Alma will be devastated by these cuts as incomes are halved, local businesses suffer and local tax revenues decline."
The resolution also quoted from a 2009 Corporate Watch report that underscored Rio Tinto's behaviour in other parts of the world. It stated, "throughout all of the companies' operations there is a clear strategy of maximizing profitability by any means possible, including violation of local and international law; collusion and funding of armed repression; corruption, lobbying and political manipulation; price-fixing; aggressive union busting; wholesale environmental destruction; and negligent health and safety policies."
The campaign by the global federations will include mobilizing union members at Rio Tinto facilities throughout the world, and exposing Rio Tinto's unsustainable economic, social and environmental practices.
The three global federations were meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The lockout in Quebec became a major topic of discussion due to Rio Tinto's long-standing practice of attempting to weaken and destroy unions. The lockout by Rio Tinto began on December 31, 2011.
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