Unionists from around the world will gather in the Canadian city of Alma, Quebec, from March 30 to April 1, to express their support for locked-out Rio Tinto Alcan workers who are fighting to preserve decent jobs, said international unions representatives on Wednesday.
The streets of Alma will be the site of a large demonstration on March 31, during which both international and Quebec-based union leaders will speak. The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) will also hold a joint meeting scheduled for March 30.
"Support has been expressed by many unions all over the globe. Attacks against jobs and workers are multiplying. A key issue to be discussed during the gathering in Alma will be strategies for standing together and responding to the multinationals, which are impoverishing entire regions to benefit their shareholders in the short term," said Ken Neumann, National Director for the United Steelworkers in Canada.
Rio Tinto Alcan locked unionized workers out at the 438,000 tonne smelter, in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, on Jan. 1, after contract talks between the company and unionized employees broke down.
Last week, the Anglo-Australian miner said that no talks were scheduled and that it continues to operate the plant with non-unionized workers at about one-third of capacity.
Next Monday, Marc Maltais, the head of Local 9490, which represents the locked out workers, along with Guy Farrell, assistant to the Quebec USW/Syndicat des Métallos Director, will fly to the U.S. to meet with union leaders at the Rio Tinto mine in Boron, which went through a five-month lockout last year.
The delegation will then fly on to Australia and then New Zealand, where they will meet with unionists to explain the issues surrounding the lockout in Quebec.