Rio Tinto Alcan Union Coalition Formed

April 7, 2009, 1:33 PM EST

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CAW representatives from Quebec and British Columbia, as well as Steelworkers and representatives from the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) in Quebec have formed a coalition of unions in the aluminium industry.

The new union coalition issued a statement April 6 which examines the impact of current market conditions on employer Rio Tinto Alcan and the long-term outlook for the aluminium industry.

 "Our conclusion is that given the increasing use of aluminium in new technologies and many sectors of the economy, the outlook for the industry remains strong and projections for Rio Tinto Alcan are optimistic - the company expects production to double by 2015," the union coalition says in its statement.

Despite the slump in aluminium prices an upturn is expected toward the end of 2009. While the unions indicated they take the current economic and market situation very seriously, they are more concerned about the high level of indebtedness taken on by Rio Tinto through its acquisition of Alcan.

"It is important to remember that Canadian workers are not the ones who spent $37 billion to acquire Alcan and it should not be up to us alone to pay the price for bad business decisions."

In response to company cost cutting plans, the unions have agreed:

- to strengthen the Rio Tinto Alcan Union Coalition;
- to mobilize community and economic forces to ensure plans for investment and modernization of plants go ahead;
- to implement a mobilization plan to head-off any plant closings or layoffs by Rio Tinto Alcan;
- to denounce company strategy to be a net seller of electricity;
- to call a meeting with top management at Rio Tinto Alcan to discuss issues affecting workers.

The CAW represents approximately 5000 workers at Rio Tinto Alcan in Quebec and British Columbia.

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