Alcan Workers Reject Deal To End Arvida Standoff

Last Updated Tue, 10 Feb 2004 16:04:50

ARVIDA, QUE. - Workers at Alcan's smelter in Arvida, Quebec, have rejected a tentative deal that would have ended a standoff with the company.

The union said the workers have voted "overwhelmingly" to turn down the weekend pact, which called for the workers to end their occupation of the smelter.

Under terms of the deal, Alcan promised not to discipline any of the workers who have been occupying the plant. The company also offered to put up $20 million over the next three years to try to attract another industrial plant to the Jonquiere area.

The Arvida facility employs 550 workers. Alcan announced last month that it would close the plant 10 years earlier than the expected closing date of 2015. The workers, members of the CAW, then began to occupy and operate the smelter themselves to protest the closure decision.

Alcan CEO Travis Engen said Monday the agreement with the union would not change the company's plans to close the smelter this spring.

Alcan said it's amazed the workers rejected the deal. An Alcan spokesperson told CBC News the company has no immediate moves planned but is determined to take back control of its factory.

The Quebec Labour Relations Board has ruled that the workers' occupation of the plant is illegal. It's ordered the smelter returned to Alcan's control.

The Quebec labour minister said it's still too early for the province to intervene in the dispute. Department officials are pinning their hopes on a mediator who was appointed last week. The union is asking the mediator to resume his work.

Alcan shares were up 68 at $58.88 on the TSX.