Airbus Workers in Canada Reject Contract Offer, Threaten Strike

Airbus Workers in Canada Reject Contract Offer, Threaten Strike

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(Bloomberg) — Airbus SE employees in Canada rejected a contract offer Sunday, threatening to go on strike if the French manufacturer doesn’t show more willingness to meet their demands.

A five-year contract for workers who build A220 jets expired at the beginning of December. Airbus’s offer, which included a 10.25% wage increase over three years, was described as “totally unacceptable” by the union, which is also asking for improvements in insurance coverage, more flexible working hours and a preservation of pension benefits.

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“Now is not the time to talk to us about setbacks, but about improving their conditions and catching up on pay,” Eric Rancourt of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said in a news release. “Members were insulted to see the proposed wage increases.” 

The union represents 1,300 out of 3,000 workers at the Mirabel manufacturing plant near Montreal. More than 82% of union members voted, with almost all saying no to the deal. 

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The A220 program, which was developed in Canada, is 75% owned by Toulouse, France-based Airbus and 25% by the Quebec government’s financial arm, Investissement Quebec, through a limited partnership. 

The single-aisle airplane, formerly known as the Bombardier Inc. CSeries, was rescued by Airbus in 2017, but the company is still struggling to control costs and ramp up production. Airbus has said it expects to reach profitability in its A220 facilities at Mirabel and Mobile, Alabama, by 2026 with an average pace of 14 aircraft produced per month, up from six as of the end of 2022. 

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“Airbus needs to focus on the commitment of its current workforce,” said Rancourt. 

“This initial offer had been made to the union following open discussions for a few months and taking into consideration the current context of the A220, which has not yet reached the break-even point,” Airbus spokesperson Amelie Forcier said in an emailed statement. “While we consider that it was a rational offer, in line with the current economical context of the A220 program, we acknowledge the results of the vote.”

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