The pressure at Bombardier continues to mount as negotiations to renew the collective bargaining agreement for its 1,800 employees face an increasingly crucial test.
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Union members at the Montreal company, which has been without a contract since December 2021, will be called on Tuesday to decide whether to start a strike. If they follow the advice of their union representatives en bloc, as expected, a strike could be called within two weeks.
In a memo sent to employees on Friday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) had some bad news to report after two more days of negotiations.
A global offer declined
“Our aim was to conclude the negotiations. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case, concluded Local 712 officials. The employer has chosen to give us a global offer, which we’re rejecting because the wage increases, outsourcing and indexing to the pension scheme are still controversial.”
Instead, the union claims to have responded with a countermotion to the employer, to which Bombardier has until May 23 to respond. “If management’s response isn’t appropriate, with such a vote of support, employees could immediately go on strike,” explains a source familiar with the matter.
In its original version, Bombardier initially proposed a three-year contract, accompanied by wage increases of 2.5% for the first year, then 2.25% for the last two.
These offers would have been considered inadmissible, particularly in the current inflationary environment. On April 24, union members rejected this offer by an overwhelming majority of 99.6%.
Presenting the company’s latest financial results earlier this month, Bombardier CEO Éric Martel expressed confidence in finding common ground with employees.
18.9% increase at Stelia
On May 7, 200 former Bombardier employees now employed by Stelia Aéronautique, a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinational Airbus, agreed to a six-year contract after several months of tense negotiations.
With regard to wages, an adjustment measure to the consumer price index has been agreed, which provides for wage increases of up to 18.9% for the duration of the agreement.
In addition, the originally threatened defined benefit pension plan was maintained. Union members accepted this proposal with a mixed share of 63.9%.