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Bombardier Management Works Factory Line Amid Strike

Bombardier Inc.’s managers are rolling up their sleeves at an Ontario factory to build Toronto’s subway and streetcar trains as a strike by unionized workers is set to stretch into its second month.

The work has deepened the rift between employees and Montreal-based Bombardier. Talks that were scheduled for last week were canceled after a rail car completed by supervisors left the plant, said Marc-Andre Lefebvre, a Bombardier spokesman. Three more rail cars are planned to be shipped today.

“The union notified us that Bombardier’s action to ship a produced train car was the reason for canceling the meeting,” Lefebvre said in a telephone interview. “We have said from the start our customers are our priority.”

More than 900 workers from the Unifor union at the Thunder Bay plant walked out July 14 after negotiations failed. Employees who had been working without a formal contract since May rejected the company’s proposals to change pension plans for new hires and wanted greater assurances on continued employment.

Bombardier shares rose 0.4 percent to C$3.86 at the close of trading in Toronto. They fell 16 percent so far this year, compared with a 12 percent increase in the benchmark Standard & Poor’s/Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index.

Toronto’s new streetcar is being produced at the plant and a number of the new wagons are due to enter service at the end of August.

“Some management have been trying to finish a few cars that were very close to completion,” said Andy Savela, a national representative for Unifor, in a phone interview. “They managed to put some finishing touches to a few cars but aside from that, they will totally be unable to resume production. They don’t have the manpower or the experience they need.”

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