Union backing Alcan staff in tribunal claim

Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.
Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.

Hundreds of ex-Alcan staff are in a battle to get one final pay-off from their former employers.

Employment tribunal proceedings are believed to have been launched by the GMB Union on behalf of those who lost their jobs at Rio Tinto Alcan when the company closed the Lynemouth plant in early 2012.

Union officials say the company failed to carry out adequate or proper consultation with staff when it announced the aluminium smelter would close.

The plant employed 515 at the time, with 323 being made redundant in the first phase of job loses in May 2012 as 60 employees then remained on site beyond the closure of all operations to work on decommissioning, remediation and regional economic development.

Union chiefs are hoping to settle the claim before a full employment tribunal is necessary.

A spokesperson for the GMB said: “The GMB currently has a protective award claim lodged in tribunal against Rio Tinto Alcan.

“I can say that we are hoping to settle this claim with the employer but can offer no further comments due to confidentiality.”

The Lynemouth smelter opened in 1972 but was closed due to rising energy costs.

Last month, the Queen’s property company – the Crown Estate – bought Rio Tinto’s 4,500-acre agriculture land portfolio, leading to the eight remaining farm workers being made redundant.

The Alcan farms portfolio, which includes agricultural land, farm buildings, 19 homes, and an operational 13-turbine wind farm leased to Scottish Power Renewables, has been managed by Alcan Farms Ltd since 1972 after the land was acquired by Rio Tinto as part of the development of the former Lynemouth aluminium smelter.