Striking Bombardier rail-car plant workers reject contract

Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:50am EST

Related Topics

* Workers have been on strike since Nov. 1

* Bombardier says honoring customer commitments

* Plant's biggest project is for Montreal's metro

Nov 22 (Reuters) - Striking workers at a Quebec-based rail-car factory belonging to Bombardier Inc have overwhelmingly rejected an offer from the company with outsourcing remaining a major stumbling block, the union said on Thursday.

Just short of 90 percent of the workers at the La Pocatiere plant who voted on Wednesday night rejected the offer, the factory union, which is affiliated with the Confederation of National Trade Unions, said in a statement.

Some 330 workers at the plant, located 360 km (225 miles) northeast of Montreal, walked off the job on Nov. 1 over pension fund issues and the outsourcing of work to other Bombardier facilities in Ontario, the United States and Mexico.

The plant makes parts for rail cars ordered by customers including New Jersey Transit, the Chicago Transit Authority and Montreal's metro.

Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said despite the three-week strike the company had been able to "honor commitments" to its customers as it has some 200 non-unionized employees who have been able to take over some factory work. The site's biggest project, a contract to build 468 rail cars for Montreal's metro, was still in its early phases with "serious" production only due to start in June 2013, Laforge said.

He said Bombardier's contract offer was "generous". It included salary increases of 12.5 percent over five years and the injection of $9 million into workers' pension fund, which he said would increase employee benefits by 18 percent.

The workers' contract expired on Sept. 30, 2011.

Shares in Bombardier were 2 Canadian cents firmer at C$3.06 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.

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Comments (1)
Venerability wrote:
I posted this at the Globe and Mail yesterday. Reuters readers might also like to ponder it:

Quebecois need to understand that Bombardier – like all its competitors in the worldwide transportation sector – need to produce a certain percentage of “product content” within the countries and regions in which they have contracts, often because of local law.

The Quebec union is being extremely short-sighted, IMO – especially since it is located so close to the Canadian-New York State border.

One of the truly immense projects that Bombardier should play a very big part in is the proposed high-speed rail line linking Manhattan with Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto, with a possible spur line to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Governor Cuomo, among many other New York State and Canadian officials, seems to be a strong supporter of such a major project. And he has visited the Plattsburgh, New York, Bombardier plant several times, in a show of strong support for Bombardier and its New York employees.

Many believe a Manhattan-to-Canada high-speed rail line – possibly the precursor of other such mammoth projects throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico – could be the same kind of “Company Maker” – and not coincidentially, Stock Maker – project for Bombardier and all its constituencies that the C-series should be – in fact, maybe potentially BETTER.

Quebec, along with Plattsburgh and other Canadian, US, and Mexican plants might be literally booming with business in just a few more quarters.

Instead of playing the “spoilers,” they should be figuring out just how their bread is buttered financially and career-wise.

This is especially important in today’s competitive climate, with both Airbus and Boeing and all those financial interests which support them actively sniping at Bombardier every chance they get.

The “Train Side” should be Bombardier’s ace in the hole at this point in the company’s history – not a drag on its worldwide prospects.

Nov 24, 2012 11:43am EST  --  Report as abuse
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