Unionized Bombardier Aviation workers in Dorval and the St-Laurent borough voted 99.6 per cent against the latest offer from management, during a general assembly on Sunday morning at the Palais des congrès.
The negotiating committee for the workers, represented by the local section 712 of the Association internationale des machinistes et des travailleurs et travailleuses de l’aérospatiale (AIMTA), recommended rejecting the offer.
According to a statement released by AIMTA, the salary offers were not acceptable to the workers. Bombardier was offering salary raises of 2.5 per cent for the first year, then 2.25 per cent for the last two years of a three-year collective agreement.
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Eric Rancourt, a business agent at AIMTA’s District 11, explained that the two parties were so far apart in salary matters that even before negotiations began on the topic, the union asked management to provide its best offer, which was then rejected almost unanimously.
“It’s well below the inflation we’re experiencing at the moment, which is hitting new heights, and people are saying, ‘We’re not worth more than that?’“ Rancourt said, adding that the workers expected Bombardier to return the favour for past concessions on their part.
During the signing of the last collective agreement, which ended in December, the unionized employees felt they had made compromises on salary due to the difficult financial situation in which the company found itself. Now that things have improved, workers want to be rewarded.
“We felt the frustration rising during the assembly,” Rancourt said, “because (the employees) don’t feel valued now that things are going better at Bombardier.”
Bombardier said in a statement the company was “on the right track” and it believed it had made an “equitable” offer for a new contract.
The workers’ association also believes that improved working conditions would help Bombardier attract new talent, given the current work shortage and the fierce competition to recruit workers in the aerospace industry.
Following the vote, the union informed management of the result and extended an invitation for the renewal of talks as quickly as possible at the beginning of the week.
Rancourt added that on top of salary matters, discussions must continue on the topics of sub-contracting (internal and external) over the duration of the work contract, and of the indexation at the cost of living of retirees’ pensions.
Following the resounding refusal of the offer from management, the unionized employees accorded a strike mandate to their representatives with 98.8 per cent support.
This mandate is not technically a strike vote, according to Rancourt. Should the union wish to make use of the strike mandate to decree strike days or even a general strike, it would have to call another general assembly to obtain approval from members.
Local section 712 of AIMTA represents 1,800 Bombardier employees on the final assembly line in Dorval and at the manufacturing centre in St-Laurent.
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