Rio Tinto strikes deal with locked out workers in Canada

Locked out workers at a Rio Tinto Alcan plant in Quebec, Canada, voted to end a six-month labour dispute that has dragged on since Dec. 30, said the United Steelworkers (USW) union in a press release on Friday.

"We were forced to take on the third-largest mining company in the world and we won," said USW President Leo Gerard. "Many thought this was impossible, given the power imbalance, but we sent a message to the resource industry throughout the world that workers and their unions can take on huge multinational corporations to stop unjust demands."

Rio Tinto Alcan locked unionized workers out at the 438,000 tonne smelter, after they refused to accept the miner's demand that retiring employees be replaced by non-union contract workers earning half the wages and no pensions or benefits.

The new deal, voted favourably by margins of 82% to 92% was reached with the intervention of a Ministry of Labour conciliator.