Rio Tinto strike in Kitimat ends after union members vote in favour of ratifying new agreement
Published Tuesday, October 5, 2021 9:12AM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 6, 2021 9:56AM PDT
Workers on strike outside Rio Tinto's facilities in Kitimat (Photo source: Steve Ross/CFTK).
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. -- The labour dispute at Rio Tinto's smelter in Kitimat is over.
Members of Unifor Local 2301 have ratified a new Collective Labour Agreement.
A notice from the union says it was approved on Friday by 70.6 per cent of votes.
The strike lasted 69 days, but workers aren't back on the job yet.
The union says they will be working hard to expedite the timelines in the return to work protocol and strategizing ways to help support its members who are unable to return to work right away.
The agreement covers the smelter, as well as Rio Tinto's hydropower facility at Kemano.
The company notes the two sides have also agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding for a new way of working together.
“We welcome this vote from employees in support of the new agreement and our shared vision of a strong, sustainable future for BC Works,” said Rio Tinto BC Works General Manager Affonso Bizon in a press release.
“Our focus will now be on ensuring the return of workers and ramp-up of production at the smelter is managed in a safe and controlled manner over coming months, to deliver lasting benefits for our employees, the broader community and our customers.”
Rio Tinto's BC Works management will begin initiating the return to work process for employees over the next few days, followed by the progressive restart of the smelter's production cells.
A previous statement from Bizon indicated that restarting Rio Tinto's shutdown smelter pots could take between 12 to 16 months to complete.