On the Picket Line

Locked-out Quebec aluminum workers win solidarity

By Annette Kouri
August 20, 2018

“The company thought they could make us come crawling back on our knees. That will never happen,” Patrick Rochette, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9700, told Communist League candidate Beverly Bernardo and campaign supporters on the picket line at the ABI Bécancour aluminum refinery July 25. Over 1,000 local members have been locked out for seven months.

“The employer is proposing workforce reductions in the neighborhood of 20 percent,” Clément Masse, president of Local 9700, told reporters July 4. The day before over 90 percent of the union voted to continue the union’s fight against the bosses’ concession demands.

The trailer near where they picket has a “solidarity wall” filled with dozens of logos of unions that have given donations. The Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) in Baie-Comeau recently donated $30,000. Others making contributions include Unifor, the Congress of Democratic Unions (CSD); and USW locals. The 400 Micro Bird bus factory workers in Drummondville are donating $1,000 a week.

Throughout the lockout the company has tried to maintain one-third production using management personnel, which is permitted under Quebec’s “anti-scab” law. But now, workers on the picket line explained, the union suspects the company is bringing in strikebreakers and has moved to have the company charged for violating the law. So far the courts have claimed they don’t have time to hear the case.

“When the bosses ask, they get what they want right away,” Steelworker Constant Coté told us, “but it’s a different story when it’s us workers.”

Bernardo said that she would use her campaign to spread the word and build solidarity with the locked-out workers.

Send solidarity messages and donations to Métallos SL 9700 F.D.P. Attention Éric Moore, section locale 9700, 8310, rue Desormeaux, Bécancour, Quebec G9H 2X2. Credit card donations can also be made online at www.metallos.org/lockout-abi/.