Union says meeting with Alcoa again over strike at Australian aluminium project

Juruti Bauxite – Image courtesy of Alcoa 

MELBOURNE, Sept 26 (Reuters) – The union at Alcoa’s aluminium operations in the state of Western Australia said it was meeting with the company again on Wednesday to try to resolve a strike that has lasted more than six weeks, after the firm last week revised an earlier offer.

Unionised workers at two alumina refineries and three bauxite mines walked out on Aug. 8 on worries that a new workplace agreement did not adequately address job security.

The strike has come during a period of very tight supply for aluminium-making material alumina, helping prices for the commodity rally by 20 percent over a month.

“(The union’s negotiating team) is meeting with Alcoa this Wednesday to discuss a resolution to the dispute,” said Australian Workers’ Union State Secretary Mike Zoetbrood.

He said that union members had met last Friday and recommended holding further discussions with the company after it submitted an offer on Thursday that aimed to address the union’s job security concerns.

“A further (union) mass meeting has been scheduled for this Friday, where we hope to achieve a fair outcome for our members,” he said.

Alcoa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The company said earlier this month that production of alumina at the site had been cut by a total of about 15,000 tonnes in August. The operations normally churn out about 9 million tonnes a year, or 25,000 tonnes a day.

The refineries and mines are owned by Alcoa of Australia Ltd, which is part of the AWAC group of companies. Sixty percent of AWAC is held by Alcoa and 40 percent by Alumina Ltd.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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