Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bombardier strike goes on; contract offer spurned

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Bombardier Transportation workers represented by Unifor local 1075, by a sound majority, have rejected the latest contract offer from management, perpetuating a six-week strike at Bombardier's plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

More than 80% of roughly 900 workers who voted turned down the proposal, local media report. Canada's Ministry of Labour supervised the vote, which took place Tuesday, Aug. 26. The strike began on July 14.

The move casts doubt on Bombardier's ability to maintain any scheduled delivery of several products, including Toronto Rocket subway cars (photo above), light rail vehicles, and streetcars to the Greater Toronto Area, and light rail vehicles to the Region of Waterloo (both in Ontario). Earlier this month Bombardier managed to deliver the first three of 420 Toronto Rocket subway cars to Canada's largest city, but labor leaders expressed confidence that few, if any, additional cars would be delivered subsequently.

"I think they were trying to drive fear into our workers," said Unifor local President Dominic Pasqualino. "But our workers stood up to that and I think they tried to intimidate them by saying that they would not get a better offer."

Pasqualino accused Bombardier of repeating a strategy it once tried to apply to its facility in La Pocatiere, Quebec. He also asserted that, by law, Bombardier is not automatically entitled to any more supervised votes.

For the company's part, Bombardier Vice President Aaron Rivers expressed disappointment, but said Bombardier would focus on getting the Thunder Bay plant work force back to work so that "Bombardier's customer contracts and commitments are met." He warned the company was ready to make "tough necessary decisions."