CAW/TCA Outraged by Alcan Layoffs in Quebec

January 23, 2009, 10:34 AM EST

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CAW/TCA officials in the province of Quebec are outraged after global mining giant Rio Tinto Alcan announced plans to permanently shut down its Beauharnois smelter and cut production at its Vaudreuil facility, eliminating hundreds of jobs including those of TCA members.

The company indicated publicly its goal is to pay down debt after a severe drop in global demand for metals and the price of aluminum. The closure announcement was made on January 20. 

TCA Quebec Director Jean-Pierre Fortin said the announced layoffs are completely unacceptable in light of existing agreements that provide Alcan access to provincial investment dollars and natural resources in Quebec.

"Quebec residents are footing the bill for a $400 million interest-free loan agreement with Alcan on condition that it keeps jobs in Quebec," Fortin said. "Under the Peribonka river deal, the company also has access to produce their own electricity using the province's water."

"It is outrageous to think that this company can take so much from our province and simply cut jobs without being held accountable," said Fortin.

Fortin said that 175 jobs will be cut at the Beauharnois facility by the end of June. An additional 60 jobs will be cut at the Vaudreuil facility but workers are expected to be re-located to other areas. TCA Local 1937 represents workers at the Vaudreuil facility and TCA Local 1951 represents workers at Beauharnois.   

This announcement is part of a broader plan of Rio Tinto Alcan to reduce its aluminum production by 6 per cent globally, cutting the jobs of over 1000 workers. All of the cuts to Canadian operations will be made in Quebec.

TCA Quebec officials denounced the company's actions at a press conference on January 20, and have demanded the provincial government enforce the agreements they have made with Alcan to protect jobs and to keep the Beauharnois facility open.

The TCA, along with Quebec Federation of Labour President Michel Arsenault, is scheduled to meet with Quebec Premier Jean Charest on January 26 in an effort to reverse the closure decision.

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