MoveUP Joins International Labour Community in Alma, Quebec

April 12, 2012

From March 30 to April 1, MoveUP President David Black and Vice-President Gwenne Farrell joined North American union activists for the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) North American Committee Meeting in Alma, Quebec.

The main focus of the meeting was the upcoming merger of the ICEM with the International Metalworkers’ Federation and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation into a new Global Union Federation: IndustriAll. Manfred Warda, General Secretary of the ICEM and Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of the IMF were in attendance to speak to this process. Special guests were also present from Australia, France, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

As the inaugural Congress for the merged organization (IndustriAll) will be held in Copenhagen in June 2012, there was discussion around what the North American Executive Committee would look like as well as how to recruit women to meet the required women’s representation for the new organization. Gwenne Farrell volunteered to be part of a new committee to make recommendations regarding the structure of the new IndustriAll North American Executive Committee.

In addition to meetings, on March 31 delegates rallied in support of the 780 workers belonging to Syndicat des Métallos d’Alma Local 9490, an affiliate of the United Steelworkers (USW), who have been locked out by Rio Tinto Alcan since December 31, 2011.
ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda pledged that global labour will mobilise Rio Tinto workers across the globe in this struggle.
“If the ruthless social agenda of Rio Tinto cannot be defeated here in Québec, there will be little hope that it can be stopped when others face company attacks,” Warda said. Rest assured, “we will take the indignities committed by Rio Tinto Alcan here throughout the world until this company agrees to stop the attacks against your community and your union.”
Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), said, “If Rio Tinto wants to prosper, it cannot break the delicate balance that connects it to the community.”
With buses of USW supporters coming in from around Quebec and Ontario, in total 8,000 people made their voices heard and the message was a clear condemnation of Rio Tinto’s blatant attacks on workers across the globe.