Rio Tinto aluminum smelter employees strike at at one of the picket lines set up out the facility’s entrance in Kitimat on Aug.5. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

Rio Tinto aluminum smelter employees strike at at one of the picket lines set up out the facility’s entrance in Kitimat on Aug.5. (Binny Paul/Terrace Standard)

Kitimat strike negotiations to continue next week

A team will head to the smelter to review restart plans for halted production

Negotiations between Rio Tinto and the union regarding the Kitimat aluminum smelter strike which began on July 25, have been productive, both parties said in an update.

The mining giant and Unifor Local 2301 said “good progress” has been made with regards to their future collaborations, in a joint statement on Sept. 2.

Both parties resumed negotiations on Aug. 24– a month after the strike began in Kitimat.

Talks are expected to continue next week and both parties will concentrate on a memorandum of understanding regarding a new way of working together and the return to work protocol, they said in the statement.

“A group of union representatives along with technical leaders in Kitimat will meet onsite to review the current situation at the plant and discuss the potential restart plan to ramp up to full production,” read the statement.

After the strike began on July 25, Rio Tinto reduced its aluminum production at the Kitimat smelter to 25 percent of its normal 432,000 tonne annual capacity. Out of 400 pots only 96 are currently running. Restarting operations of the pots and going back to full capacity could take several months to a year, the company has said previously.

The strike between Rio Tinto and its 950 unionized employees represented by Unifor Local 2301 began, after negotiations failed between both parties to reach a collective agreement on matters of employee benefits and use of contractors among others issues.