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Tentative deal reached in 2-month-old Kitimat aluminum strike

Rio Tinto and Unifor Local 2301 reach collective labour agreement for Kitimat BC Works smelter
A photo of Unifor Local 2301 members picketing outside of the Rio Tinto smelter in Kitimat BC, in July . (Jacob Lubberts photo)

Mining giant Rio Tinto and the Unifor Local 2301 have reached an agreement on a new collective labour agreement that could end a crippling two-month aluminum strike in Kitimat.

In a joint statement released Sept. 25, Rio Tinto and the union announced they reached an agreement in principle on a deal that will “provide a foundation for respect in the workplace and underpin a competitive and sustainable future for BC Works, benefiting employees and their families, the company, and the broader community.”

According to the statement, both parties have also reached an agreement in principle for a Memorandum of Understanding on a new way of working together and on a return to work protocol.

If ratified by members of Unifor Local 2301, the pact could end a strike at the Kitimat smelter that began on July 25, after the first round of collective bargaining fell through. More than 950 unionized employees of Rio Tinto walked off the job and the company reduced its production to 25 per cent of its normal 432,000 tonne annual capacity.

READ MORE: Rio Tinto and union to meet and discuss future of Kitimat smelter strike negotiation

A ratification vote is planned in the coming days. Both parties said they will not publish details of the proposed agreement until Unifor 2301 has completed its ratification process.

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