The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) declares its solidarity with the Canadian members of the United Steelworkers Union who are currently visiting New Zealand (Invercargill today; Wellington tomorrow) to gain support for their struggle against contracting out by their employer, Rio Tinto Alcan. Their struggle bears an uncanny resemblance to that being waged by the Maritime Union against Ports of Auckland Ltd contracting out their jobs. And Rio Tinto Alcan has used the same tactic – namely, the indefinite lockout –as Affco has against its’ meat workers in the North Island.
Our Canadian visitors need to know that Rio Tinto Alcan is also a recidivist corporate offender in this country, being one of the eight finalists in the annual Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2011.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd/Rio Tinto Alcan NZ Ltd (notorious for decades under its previous name of Comalco) has been a regular finalist and was runner up in both the 2009 and 08 Roger Awards (you will find the Judges’ Reports for those years at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/index.html).
In 2011 the nominator put in a detailed (even footnoted) nomination of the owners of the Bluff aluminium smelter for a new reason – for lobbying two Governments “over several years to secure to secure excessive allocations of free emissions units under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)… NZAS/Rio Tinto has interfered in a democratic process via political lobbying through its industry advocate the Greenhouse Policy Coalition in order to dodge a tax (greenhouse gas pricing under the NZETS), and to profit from the ETS through excessive free allocation of emissions units….there is very little doubt that the NZETS unit allocation rules are so distorted that the smelter would face a higher carbon price if it were exempted from obligations under the NZETS and just paid its electricity bills”. This is the same transnational which, only a few years ago, threatened to quit NZ if the ETS went ahead. If you can't beat them, you might as well make money out of them, eh.
A whole book could be written about this company’s misdeeds in New Zealand and a good place to refresh your memory about its outrageous early history here is our 30 year old classic comic booklet “The Amazing Adventures Of NZ’s No.1 Power Junky: The True Story Of Comalco In NZ” (online at http://www.historicalwatchdog.blogspot.co.nz/2009/01/comalco-comic.html). It’s an oldie but a goody.
The winner/s of the 2011 Roger Award will be announced at an event in Christchurch on the night of Friday April 20th.
The full list of finalists and other details are at http://canterbury.cyberplace.co.nz/community/CAFCA/publications/Roger/2011finalists.html