Bombardier Toronto union could strike June 23 if no deal

A Bombardier logo is pictured during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Geneva Airport, Switzerland May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian workers who assemble Bombardier Inc's BBDb.TO turboprops and the company's new top-of-the-line business jet have threatened to go on strike as early as June 23, unless a negotiated wage deal is reached, the union chairman of their Toronto plant said on Thursday.

Merv Gray, plant chairman for Unifor local 112, told Reuters by telephone that the 1,600 workers are looking for greater job security on the company’s strong-selling Global 7500 business jet, among other demands.

The long-range jet, which is to enter service this year, is a critical part of the Canadian plane-and-train-maker’s strategy to grow business aircraft revenues to $8.5 billion in 2020, up from $5 billion in 2017.

While Gray stressed the union is pushing for a three-year contract to replace the agreement that expires on June 23, failure to reach a deal could lead to a strike that day depending “on how close we are.”

Mark Masluch, a spokesman for Bombardier business aircraft said by email that “discussions are progressing well and we plan to work within the deadline.”

While Masluch said Bombardier wouldn’t “comment on the specifics of our ongoing, active discussions with Unifor, I want to emphasize we see a bright future for our products in Toronto.”

Union workers at Bombardier’s Downsview plant in Toronto assemble the Global 7500, the Global 5000 and the Q400 turboprops.

The union talks follow Bombardier’s May announcement that it had agreed to sell the sprawling Downsview site, the company’s largest land asset, to a Canadian pension fund for approximately $635 million.

While Bombardier will continue to operate from Downsview for a period of up to three years, with two optional one-year extension periods, the sale has made job security a priority for workers at the factory, Unifor said in a May 31 statement.

Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Sandra Maler