Unifor Members Vote 99.5% In Favour of Strike if Necessary At Rio Tinto Kitimat

Unionized workers at Rio Tinto's operations at Kitimat and Kemano have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike, if a deal cannot be negotiated before a July 23rd deadline.

A union bulletin says members of Unifor Local 2301 voted 99.5% in favour of job action.

Unifor Natinoal President Jerry Dias accused Rio Tinto of creating a climate of extreme disrespect in the workplace, adding the company has work to do if it wants to reach a deal without disruption at the smelter.

The union also accuses the company of violating the collective agreement with mandatory overtime, failing to provide adequate washroom facilities, and accruing over 500 outstanding grievances.

Local 2301 President Sean O'Driscoll says the union will not accept any concessions, and told Rio Tinto there must be a plan to improve respect for workers at the smelter.

In a statement, Rio Tinto said its objective is a smooth, open and mutally respectful negotiation, and it hopes to have an agreement prior to the July 23rd deadline.

The company also says it intends to listen, understand and work together on solutions to make the business competitive and sustainable.

Rio Tinto says it's committed to avoiding a labour dispute, which would be very detrimental for the District of Kitimat.