A proposal to end the strike at Alcoa Corporation’s bauxite and alumina operations in Western Australia was rejected by the plant’s trade union on Friday, allowing the month-long work stoppage to continue.
The strike, which began on August 8, is the result of workers’ complaints regarding a new agreement that they say provides insufficient job security.
For its part, Alcoa said it will continue to monitor talks between site management and the union representing the 1,500-strong workforce.
The Australian Workers Union’s (AWU) National Secretary Daniel Walton revealed that 4 out of 5 workers turned down the agreement proposed by Alcoa.
“This decisive vote should provide Alcoa management with the impetus to come back to the table with job security assurances,” he explained.
Another union spokesperson told Reuters that Alcoa started the process of withdrawing the current agreement previous to the recent vote, with a five-day hearing scheduled to begin on September 17. Should the court agree to rescind the current agreement, the firm is expected to have a greater advantage in talks regarding a new contract.
The strike comes at a challenging time for the global supply of alumina. The world’s supply has already been hobbled by a partial shut-down at the world’s largest refinery in Brazil and United States sanctions on major alumina producer U.C. Rusal.
Scarce supplies have led to a 40-percent bump in prices for the aluminium precursor since June, when the Brazilian government mandated a shut-down of half of Alunorte’s capacity over concerns that flooding in February may have led to contamination of the local watershed.
According to Alcoa, alumina production on the site has already fallen off by 15 thousand metric tons through the end of August, which has an annual production of 9 million metric tons.
Alcoa is also in talks with United Steelworkers to end an 8-month lockout of over a thousand workers at the ABI aluminium smelter in Canada.