Bombardier Workers Strike as New Contract Talks Fail

Production at a Bombardier Inc. rail plant in Ontario has stalled after about 900 workers walked off site at 2 p.m. following failed negotiations between the labor union and management.

Employees at the Thunder Bay factory, which produces subway cars and streetcars for Toronto, have been working without a formal contract since May 31. Discussions between the company and labor union Unifor focused on pensions and concerns an increasing number of jobs would be shipped to Mexico.

Negotiations broke down after the company failed to respond to the union’s latest offer and no progress had been made on key issues since July 12, said Jerry Dias, Unifor president, in a telephone interview.

“The last offer they made is fraught with all sorts of concessions and we’re not taking that,” Dias said. “It would mean that 70 percent of the workforce doesn’t end up with proper retirement benefits - it’s just not happening.”

Marc-Andre Lefebvre, a Bombardier Transportation spokesman, said the company is committed to keeping communication with union representatives open. He wouldn’t comment on specifics of the discussions.

“Bombardier Transportation is deeply disappointed that our blue-collar workers have decided to strike,” Lefebvre said in a telephone interview. “At this point we’re really focused on minimizing the impact the labor disruption can have on our customers.”

Bombardier shares rose 1.6 percent to C$3.83 at the close of trading in Toronto. They have declined 17 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index.

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