Preparations To Shut Down Aluminium Smelter Underway - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Preparations To Shut Down Aluminium Smelter Underway

Published November 23, 2015

Photos by
HRV Engineering

Workers preparing to go on strike say they will assist in shutting down all operations of the plant. The strike is set to begin in just ten days.

RÚV reports that if no collective bargaining agreement is reached between workers and management at the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter in Straumsvík by December 2, the strike will begin. Some 300 workers are expected to walk off the job, but some will remain on – for the purpose of shutting the plant down completely.

Rio Tinto Alcan spokesperson Ólafur Teitur Guðnason said that the first cauldron will be turned off on December 2. After that point, a group of union-selected workers will be responsible for shutting down the rest of the plant over the course of two weeks.

Six unions are currently in negotiations with the smelter’s management, but most smelter workers are in the unions Verkalýðsfélagið Hlíf and The Icelandic Union of Marine Engineers and Metal Technicians (VM).

“There have been a great deal of scare tactics coming from management in what they’ve offered,” Gylfi Ingvarsson, one of the main negotiators for the unions, told reporters. “They’ve contended that there’s some kind of misunderstanding going on regarding their offer, and that we haven’t been informing our workers on what the situation actually is. This has gone so far that I seriously doubt that they’re legally allowed to employ these scare tactics at the same time there are meetings with workers and voting going on over a matter as important as a strike.”

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