RTA issues lockout notice, CAW responds with strike notice as Alcan smelter contract deadline looms

Negotiations between Rio Tinto Alcan and Canadian Auto Workers Local 2301 are going down to the wire. The current contact expires Monday, July 23.

The CAW says 96 per cent of members voted in favour of strike action during voting Thursday and Friday. The Local represents 1150 workers at the Alcan smelter. One of the main issues in the negotiations is a reduction in the workforce to 699.

CAW Local 2301 president Rick Belmont said the union received a 72 hour lockout notice this afternoon and the union responded with a strike notice.

RTA spokeperson Colleen Nyce says issuing lockout and strike notice is standard practice during negotiations.

Both sides say negotiations will continue through the weekend.

If there are picket lines it could be a confusing and possibly volatile situation because the Kitimat Modernization Project is on the same site with a work camp full of construction workers on RTA property.

Most construction workers are employed or contracted by Bechtel, the construction contractor and are not members of CAW 2301.