Unifor Local 2301 extended its strike notice until midnight on July 24. If no agreement is made, picketing will begin to take place on the road leading to the smelter cafeteria gate and the main smelter gate. (Rio Tinto)

Unifor Local 2301 extended its strike notice until midnight on July 24. If no agreement is made, picketing will begin to take place on the road leading to the smelter cafeteria gate and the main smelter gate. (Rio Tinto)

Union extends collective agreement process for another 24 hours: Unifor Local 2301

The deadline extension will give the union an opportunity to satisfy the mandate given by membership

Rio Tinto and its unionized workers at its Kitimat aluminum smelter have agreed to another day of contract talks in hopes of avoiding a strike that had been scheduled to start midnight July 23.

In a bulletin released late July 23, Unifor Local 2301 says it continues to work toward a mandate provided by its members which was backed by 72 hours strike notice mid-week.

The union bargaining committee has also confirmed that the union and Rio Tinto have agreed to have a number of workers considered as essential at the company’s Kemano power production and smelter power operations facilities.

That’s in line with how the provincial Labour Relations Board ruled back during previous negotiations in 20012 and 2017.

This time, however, potline workers have been added to the essential list so as to have an orderly and controlled shut down of production.

If no agreement is made by midnight on July 24, picketing will begin to take place in two separate locations – one on the road leading to the smelter cafeteria gate and the other at the main smelter gate — which will be the only access point for anyone entering the smelter.

Usually picketing would take place at the railroad tracks but LNG Canada has applied to prevent that from happening so as to not affect its own work.

Union members voted 100 per cent to strike which, says Unifor, is the strongest mandate in the history of Local 2301.

READ MORE: Kitimat smelter and Kemano power operations workers vote unanimously in favour of a strike



jacob.lubberts@northernsentinel.com