[Marxism] Workers Sieze Alcan Smelter in Quebec

usman x sandinista at shaw.ca
Tue Feb 3 01:24:45 MST 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: Gregory Lewis

> f86
> Alcan CEO calls on unionized workers to open
> dialogue
> over seized plant
> Canadian Press
> Monday, February 02, 2004
> Alcan president Travis Engen at a news conference in
> Montreal on April 24,
> 2003. (CP/Paul Chiasson)
> TORONTO (CP) - The head of Alcan Inc. said Monday
> he's
> concerned about
> safety at one of the company's Quebec aluminum
> smelters, which has been
> taken over by unionized workers.
> "You have to remember these are facilities that use
> very, very high levels
> of power, millions of amperes of electricity, molten
> metal," Travis Engen
> said after a speech to a Toronto business lunch.
> While the unionized workers have done well operating
> the smelter at
> Jonquiere, Que., on their own since taking it over
> last week to protest
> plans to close it this spring, affecting 550 jobs,
> Alcan management is
> still responsible for the facility, he said.
> "We're quite concerned about the potential for
> something which might breach
> our health-and-safety standards," Engen said.
> But he added the company hasn't given any deadline
> to
> the workers, who are
> represented by an affiliate of the Canadian Auto
> Workers union.
> "There will be some limits, obviously, because there
> are some raw materials
> required to produce aluminum. I would image the
> stocks
> of raw materials
> that are at hand are falling. But there's no
> deadline," Engen said.
> Quebec's Labour Relations Board ruled late Friday
> that
> the workers' actions
> were illegal. On Saturday, thousands of people
> demonstrated against plans
> to close the plant 10 years earlier than expected.
> Engen said the 60-year-old smelter, which had been
> slated to close in 2014
> because its technology doesn't meet more stringent
> environmental standards,
> is being closed earlier because of the age of its
> workforce.
> "We've been trying to find the right moment in time
> when, because of the
> natural evolution of the employment, that we'd have
> enough retirements to
> more than offset the job reductions so that people
> could be transferred and
> there would not be any layoffs," Engen said.
> Alcan had been in discussions with union
> representatives before the
> company's announcement Jan. 22 that it plans to
> close
> the facility. But the
> workers' representatives have been unwilling to talk
> since then, he said.
> "We remain open, interested, available. And would
> welcome whatever steps
> could be taken to open up a dialogue," Engen told
> reporters.
> Alcan had started the closure process, which
> requires
> several weeks. But
> Rolland Poirier, the union local's general
> secretary,
> said in an interview
> the workers took over the plant last Tuesday "and
> stopped the closure
> process."
> Poirier said Monday the mill's foremen are making
> inspections at the mill,
> which still runs 24 hours a day, "but the operating
> decisions are being
> made by the operators."
> The last of the four potlines was to be closed at
> the
> start of April,
> Poirier said. He added that the Quebec government
> has
> named a mediator to
> try to resolve the dispute.
> Although Alcan is rationalizing its global
> operations
> since the acquisition
> of Pechiney SA of France in December, Engen said the
> closure of the
> Jonquiere smelter was due to its aging technology
> and
> desire to avoid
> layoffs.
> But Engen said he does expect layoffs will result
> from
> its takeover of
> Pechiney, particularly some of the functions at its
> Paris headquarters.
> Montreal-based Alcan (TSX:AL) is the world's largest
> aluminum producer by
> revenue after its recent takeover of Pechiney,
> completed last month for
> $6.3 billion.
> ) Copyright 2004 The Canadian Press
> Project-X list:
> initiated for the (re)building of the Left.
> =====
> "It does not matter how many people chose moral
> duty over the rationality of self-preservation -
> what does matter is that some did. Evil is not
> all-powerful. It can be resisted. The testimony of
> the few who did resist shatters the authority of the
> logic of self-preservation. It shows it for what it
> is in the end - a choice."
> - Zygmunt Bauman, 'Modernity and the Holocaust'
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