Rio Tinto is reducing production at its Kitimat aluminum smelter in British Columbia, Canada to around 35pc of its 432,000mt capacity following a breakdown in negotiations between the workers’ Union Unifor Local 2301 and the miner.
Around 900 workers are affected by the strike, which began on Sunday with a walkout. It also impacts the company’s nearby power generating facility in Kemano, Rio Tinto indicated in a statement on Monday.
The union moved on the strike, it said, after almost seven weeks of negotiations with the company remained unresolved. The union had suggested changes to workers’ retirement benefits and had other unresolved grievances. The company faces more than 300 unsolved grievances unsolved and has refused to expand full-time employees in preference for temporary workers, Unifor said in a statement to the media.
On its part, Rio Tinto noted in a statement on Monday that it had tried to make all the accommodations necessary during its negotiations with the union. The company had also broached the idea of an independent negotiator, it indicated, which was rejected by the union.
Previously, Rio Tinto had sought an order from the province’s labour relations board to declare the power plant workers as essential and limit walk-out probability.
Kitimat began operating at full capacity at the 420,000mt annual production plant in April 2016.