ArcelorMittal locks out workers at Quebec plant

Workers rejected the company's last contract offer, opposing pension plan changes.

CONTRECOEUR, Que. — Employees of ArcelorMittal have been locked out by the global steel giant after they rejected the company’s last contract offer.

Fifty-two per cent of 262 workers present voted against the contract Aug. 6, saying they objected in particular to proposed changes to the company pension plan.

They also insisted the wage increases being offered were insufficient.

The company locked them out shortly afterward.

Union spokesman Guy Gaudette says he was surprised by the lockout because the two sides had been involved in a recent negotiating blitz with a mediator.

The union had also not exercised its strike mandate.

Gaudette says ArcelorMittal wanted to move from a fully funded pension plan to a defined contribution plan for younger workers and future employees.

While the company would take care of the contributions in both cases, the pension amount for employees in the new plan would depend on its performance over the years.

Gaudette said that would make it more difficult for young workers to plan for retirement.

The 300 unionized workers have been without a contract since July 31. The company makes leaf springs and steel frames used by the auto and construction industries.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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