After more than four months of lockdown, members of the Rolls-Royce Canada Workers Union (STTRRC) demonstrated in downtown Montreal on Wednesday to demand better wage conditions.
Posted at 7:00 am
There were more than a hundred who took to the streets of the metropolis on Wednesday morning. Workers at the Rolls-Royce Canada plant on Chemin de la Côte-de-Liesse in Lachine rallied on Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle to put pressure on the multinational company specializing in the manufacture of aircraft engines. They marched to Premier François Legault’s office to urge the Coalition avenir Québec to consider the industrial dispute.
In February, the Department of Business and Innovation announced a $334 million investment in Quebec’s aerospace industry through 2024. Subsidies that Union says Rolls-Royce Canada could benefit from.
This is a “completely absurd” investment given Rolls-Royce Canada’s “unacceptable” intentions towards its employees, lamented Frédéric Labelle, President of the STTRRC.
In particular, members of the Rolls-Royce Canada union were demonstrating to “explain” to François Legault that he is currently subsidizing a company that is neglecting the working conditions of its employees, he told the newspaper The press. In anticipation of the elections this autumn, “we are giving Mr. Legault the chance to rectify the situation”.
However, Rolls-Royce Canada claims to have received no subsidies from the provincial government.
An ongoing conflict
The problem is not new: workers at the Montreal plant have been without a collective agreement since March 2020. Recall that Rolls-Royce Canada imposed a lockout on March 15 after negotiations with its employees. Since then, around 530 employees have been unemployed.
“We were cut off from all our services, insurance and premiums. I don’t know where the employer wants to go, but it’s a big disrespect [de sa part] ‘ regrets Jean-François Guyot, an employee at the Rolls-Royce Canada plant.
The British company wants to replace the factory workers’ pension fund with a “less advantageous” one. This is worrying for workers who have been contributing to their pension fund for years, says Cloé Zawadzki-Turcotte, trade union adviser at the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN).
“I must have lost $4,000 in my three-year retirement fund. It’s been going down since the transfer,” explains Serge Tourangeau, also an employee of Rolls-Royce Canada.
The focus of the negotiations is the abolition of the defined benefit pension plan and the wage freeze. These are management decisions that demand major concessions from employees, says François Énault, vice-president of the CSN.
A non-discrimination clause has been applied to new employees, who are now covered by a defined contribution plan, he explains. The British company now wants to apply it to all employees. François Énault recalls that this new defined contribution plan puts the risk on the shoulders of the workers.
Negotiations between the CSN, UK headquarters and the government resumed last week. The workers hope to return to work soon, stresses Frédéric Labelle. However, the last employer’s offer was rejected on July 24 by 75%. The offer included an 18% wage increase.
“The current situation is unfortunate, but we all recognize the importance of continuing our discussions and reaching an agreement that will ensure a sustainable future for the company,” Rolls-Royce Canada management said via email The press.
An earlier version of this text indicated that Rolls-Royce Canada had received part of a $334 million investment in Quebec’s aerospace industry from the government of Quebec. The company says it has not received any money from the envelope to date. We apologize.