Canadian Manufacturing

Quebec smelter workers locked out after rejecting contract offer

More than 1,000 employees at the ABI smelter near Montreal were locked out less than 24 hours after declining the latest contract offer. The smelter is co-owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan

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BECANCOUR, Que.—Workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Becancour, Que., have been locked out after rejecting a contact offer.

A spokeswoman for the United Steelworkers Local 9700 confirmed the facility’s 1,030 employees were locked out at 3 a.m. Thursday, less than 24 hours after they voted more than 80 per cent to reject of the company’s latest contract offer.

The union says the bargaining committee will meet soon to establish a strategy to what it called a cavalier gesture by the company.

In the meantime, workers were stationed in front of the factory, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

Management, which had called the offer final, said Wednesday it was disappointed with vote result.

There are reports the company plans to maintain certain operations using managers.

After releasing the vote results, the union said it believed a settlement was possible and urged the company to resume bargaining to replace a five-year collective agreement that expired in November.

The union says the key issue in the dispute is a company plan to introduce a new member-funded pension plan instead of a defined plan.

Local president Clement Masse denounced management’s decision to trigger a lockout without warning in the middle of the night.

He added in a statement on Thursday that the union remains open to negotiating in good faith.

The ABI smelter, a major private employer in the region, is 75 per cent owned by Alcoa and 25 per cent by Rio Tinto Alcan.

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