RTA workers strike looms

Negotiations are ongoing as unionized Rio Tinto Alcan workers prepare for a potential strike.

Negotiations continue as a strike looms for unionized workers at Rio Tinto Alcan.

The Canadian Autoworkers Union Local 2301 and RTA are currently at the table trying to reach a deal before the day’s end, which will be 72 hours after unionized workers there handed in their strike notice.

“(The) contract expires at midnight,” said RTA spokesperson Colleen Nyce. “We are still negotiating.”

Last Friday union members voted 96 per cent in favour of a strike prior to handing in 72 hour notice.

“With your support shown through giving the union the right to strike … the company will be forced to address your directive given to the committee to secure jobs now and in the future,” said a release from CAW Local 2301 July 20.

RTA issued a lockout notice the same day.

Also, two separate strike-related applications saw orders issued by the Labour Relations Board.

The first order was issued after RTA filed an essential services application in order to manage reservoir water levels to avoid flooding.

“The terms of the order provide for the necessary measures to allow RTA to continue to generate power (use water from the reservoir) and manage the water levels to avoid flooding,” said a July 21 CAW Local 2301 release.

RTA will continue to generate power and export to BC Hydro and part of the power generated will be used to maintain the potlines in a hibernated state,” said the release.

The next order was issued after Bechtel and the KMP Employers Association and the Back-up Tunnel Association filed an application to ensure their work was not disrupted in case of a strike.

“Given the location of their projects and the one common road into the site, they challenged our traditional picket site at the tracks as it would likely lead to their workers refusing to cross,” said the CAW Local 2301 release July 21.

The Union picket lines will now be at Main Gate on the grass area in front of the RTA Office and another at the Nechako Dock area,” it said. “All RTA Kitimat traffic must enter and leave the site through Main Gate and all KMP traffic must use the KMP gates. All RTA Kemano traffic must use the Nechako Dock and all KMP Kemano traffic must use MK Bay Marina.”