A photo of Unifor Local 2301 members picketing outside of the Rio Tinto smelter in Kitimat BC, in July . (Jacob Lubberts photo)

A photo of Unifor Local 2301 members picketing outside of the Rio Tinto smelter in Kitimat BC, in July . (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Rio Tinto and union reach collective labour agreement for Kitimat aluminum smelter

The strike which began on July 25 could end soon provided the agreement is voted and ratified by union members

Mining giant Rio Tinto and the Unifor Local 2301 have reached an agreement on a new collective labour agreement after negotiations between both parties resumed last month in Vancouver.

In a joint statement released Sept. 25, Rio Tinto and the union announced they reached an agreement in principle and that both parties are satisfied that the proposed agreement will provide a foundation for respect in the workplace and underpin a competitive and sustainable future for BC Works, benefiting employees and their families, the company, and the broader community.

This could also lead to the two-month long strike at the Kitimat smelter being resolved soon, provided the collective labour agreement is voted and ratified by members of Unifor Local 2301.

According to the statement, both parties have also reached an agreement in principle for a Memorandum of Understanding on a new way of working together and on a return to work protocol.

The strike began at the Kitimat smelter on July 25, after the first round of collective bargaining fell through. Over 950 unionized employees of Rio Tinto went on strike, following which the company reduced its aluminum production at the smelter to 25 per cent of its normal 432,000 tonne annual capacity.

READ MORE: Rio Tinto and union to meet and discuss future of Kitimat smelter strike negotiation

Unifor Local 2301 will present the proposed agreement to their members, with a vote to seek its ratification planned in the coming days. Both parties said they will not publish details on the proposed agreement until Unifor 2301 has completed their ratification process.