January 11, 2018 / 5:09 PM / a year ago

Alcoa locks union workers out of Canada smelter as contract expires

Jan 11 (Reuters) - The tussle between Alcoa Corp and union workers escalated on Thursday after the aluminum producer locked them out of its smelter in Becancour, Quebec as an old contract expired at midnight and talks on a new agreement failed.

The collective agreement for 1,030 unionized workers expired at 11:59 EST (0459 GMT) Wednesday, which gave workers the right to strike and Alcoa the right to lock them out, the United Steelworkers had said.

The union at the ABI smelter rejected Alcoa’s proposal which included a two-tier pension plan that was less favorable to new workers and demanded concessions on seniority rights, but had said they were ready to negotiate further.

"Rather than returning to the bargaining table, ABI has gone even further with its heavy-handed tactics, locking out employees without warning in the middle of the night," Clement Masse, president of Steelworkers Local 9700, said in a statement on Thursday. (bit.ly/2D0JoDQ)

The union’s employees would remain locked out of the facility until further notice, Alcoa said in a statement.

Alcoa owns 74.95 percent of the ABI smelter, with Rio Tinto Alcan, owing the rest. It produces 430,000 metric tonnes of aluminum annually. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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