Rio Tinto Workers In British Columbia Issue Strike Notice

The union representing Rio Tinto employees in British Columbia has issued a strike notice after nearly seven weeks of contract negotiations.

Unifor Local 2301, which represents about 900 workers at the smelting facility in Kitimat and the power generating facility in Kemano, have unanimously voted in support of a potential strike.

Union President Jerry Dias said in a news release that the strike vote "speaks volumes to the culture of disrespect and unfair treatment Rio Tinto has created over many years."

The union says it has proposed the first changes to workers' retirement income and benefit levels in more than a decade, including moving younger workers to a defined benefit from defined contribution pension plans.

It also says negotiations have focused on a backlog of more than 300 grievances resulting from the company's increasing use of contractors and refusal to hire full-time, permanent workers.

Unifor is Canada's largest private-sector union, representing 315,000 workers. The strike at Rio Tinto’s British Columbia operations is due to begin on July 24.