Bombardier C series Click image to enlarge

Workers at Bombardier Aerospace have overwhelmingly approved a reciprocity agreement to govern labour relations under a future C Series partnership with Airbus.

Workers voted 92.3 per cent in favour of the agreement at a special meeting last weekend. Around 4,000 Bombardier Aerospace employees were called to the Montreal meeting, as the manufacturer and Airbus are finalizing their partnership to produce C Series aircraft.

The deal ensures that workers who switch from one company to another will not lose their pensions and will keep most of their seniority benefits. It also ensures workers laid off from one company will be given priority for future jobs at both.

Union spokesman Dave Chartrand says the letter of agreement will be included in the collective bargaining agreements of both companies, which will be renegotiated once the partnership is finalized.

“There were very important bridges that we wanted to create between both agreements, and by getting this agreement inside before we end up getting a decision, we're going to have a letter that is in both collective agreements that could be applicable,” he said.

In a statement, Bombardier said it was pleased with the outcome of the vote, calling it “another important step towards closing the announced partnership with Airbus for the C Series aircraft.”

“This is good news for our unionized employees, who will keep their benefits even if they move from Bombardier to the C Series LP or vice versa,” the company said.

``It is also a positive outcome for Bombardier and our partner Airbus, as it will maintain our access to a large pool of qualified workers in the Montreal region and give us the flexibility to address operational needs within both companies.”

Although they are spread over three sites, the aerospace workers are covered by the same employment contract, which expires next year.

However, under the deal with Airbus, the limited partnership created to build C Series will now become responsible for approximately 2,000 employees at the Mirabel plant.

A spokesman for the aerospace and machinist workers union told The Canadian Press last week that many employees have questions about working conditions under Airbus, which will hold 50.1 per cent of the new partnership.

Guillaume Valois said they also want to know what happens to their seniority, pension plans, and the process to be followed in case of layoffs.

Bombardier's share will increase to 31 per cent while that of the Quebec government – which injected US $1 billion to obtain 49.5 per cent in 2015 – should decline to only 19 per cent.

Source: The Canadian Press

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