AS ALCAN ALUMINUM CONvened its annual meeting in Montreal on Apr. 27, David Hackbirth, former president of its U.S. operations, was unleashing explosive charges against the company. Hackbirth, 60, says he was fired in February for refusing to water down safety, health, and environmental standards at the Cleveland-based unit--under orders from headquarters. Hackbirth says he was against saving money by loosening the company's safety and other standards but adds that, to his knowledge, Alcan's U.S. unit never violated the law. He says he will sue for wrongful dismissal on May 15 if Alcan doesn't thoroughly investigate the matter. A spokesman in Montreal says the company looked into the charges and found they have "no basis in fact."

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