Alcoa Cuts More Aluminum Output in Quebec – by Joe Deaux and Sandrine Rastello (Bloomberg News – December 19, 2018)

Alcoa Corp. will further curtail production at a Canadian smelter as the biggest U.S. aluminum producer faces a shortage of workers amid a dispute with unionized workers and the impact of U.S. tariffs on shipments of the metal.

The Pittsburgh-based company said it will curtail half of the one operating potline’s 138,000 metric ton capacity at its majority-owned Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. smelter in Quebec. Alcoa attributed the cut to recent departures and retirements of salaried employees, who were already working extra shifts since the producer locked out more than 1,000 union employees on Jan. 11.

The move is the latest twist in a labor dispute that started over pensions and recruitment rules, but turned into a deadlock that shut the smelter’s two other potlines. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Andrew Cosgrove estimated that the lockout at Becancour could curtail 280 000 t this year from the global market.


“We’ve had salaried employees operating one full line since January 11, and since that time we’ve had retirements and resignations, so we’ve seen a decrease in salaried staff and we decided we need an adjustment on that line,” Jim Beck, an Alcoa spokesman, said in a telephone interview. “We still are committed to reaching a negotiated agreement with the labor union.”

Alcoa, which generated more than half its revenue outside the US last year, has had mixed effects from the 10% tariffs that the Trump administration slapped on most US aluminum imports earlier this year.

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