As the Kitimat aluminium smelter strike enters its fourth week, Rio Tinto and the union will hold another meeting in Vancouver next week to see if negotiations about a collective agreement can be renewed.
On Aug. 12, a similar meeting was held in Kitimat between top officials from Rio Tinto’s Montreal headquarters and Unifor Local 2301’s president to see if negotiations could resume between both parties in hopes of ending the stroke at the aluminum smelter which began in July 25.
However, no updates were provided by Rio Tinto or Unifor as to what happened during the Aug. 12, meeting and if both parties would head back to the table.
Information about next week’s meeting was sent out to Rio Tinto employees through a company memo on Aug. 17.
“After the meeting held on August 12 and follow up conversations, Rio Tinto and Unifor Local 2301 have agreed to meet early next week in Vancouver with a view to assess the potential restart of negotiations between parties,” said Rio Tinto in the memo.
While the meeting will not involve negotiations, it does give both sides another opportunity to discuss a framework for moving forward.
The memo also states that both parties have agreed that no other communication would be made until next week’s discussion takes place.
The strike began that began in Kitimat on July 25 after seven weeks of failed bargaining efforts between Unifor and Rio Tinto on matters of employee benefits and use of contractors among other issues.
No details have been provided as to what’s involved in contract talks save for the union which published information stating the company was proposing a series of benefits reductions.
Rio Tinto has denied that allegation but has not provided details on what it did propose, stating the contents of the negotiations to be confidential.
Local governments and leaders, including the District of Kitimat, City of Terrace, Haisla Nation, Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross and NDP MP Taylor Bachrach called on Rio Tinto and Unifor Local 2301 to resume talks amidst fear of economic disruptions in northwest B.C.