Alcoa Corporation tendered what it describes as its final offer to striking employees at Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. (ABI) smelter in Québec, Canada on Wednesday in hopes of bringing an 18-month dispute with hourly employees at the plant to an end.
The company did not delve into specifics of the offer it tendered to United Steelworkers, who represents the hourly labor at the plant. However, Alcoa indicated that the offer would remain on the table through next Friday, at which point the process of bringing the plant back online or curtailing production completely would begin.
ABI’s labor situation has been tenuous since the prior agreement expired during the summer of 2017. Despite ongoing talks prior to the agreement’s end, no new agreement was reached by the conclusion of the 90-day grace period tacked on to the expiration of the contract. Capacity at the plant was cut eleven days into the new year after the subsequent offer from Alcoa did not pass muster with plant employees.
The smelter, which is a joint venture between Alcoa (who owns 74.95 percent) and Rio Tinto Group (owners of the remaining 25.05 percent), boasts a nameplate smelting capacity of 413 thousand metric tons per year across its three potlines. However, two of the lines have been idle since early 2018 due to the strike, while the third line continued in operation while being staffed by salaried employees. The third line’s capacity was halved near the end of last year. Should the current offer fail to gain traction, Alcoa promises to close that remaining capacity, while an agreement to Alcoa’s offer would result in a restart of operations scheduled for July 26.
With 720 pots across three potlines, ABI’s smelter is the second-biggest production site for primary aluminium in North America.