tbnewswatch.com file photograph
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino
THUNDER BAY -- Negotiations between workers and Bombardier have hit a snag as the target for a strike at the local plant is less than 48 hours away.
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said he was informed Saturday evening the company was taking a step back from talks.
The primary points of contention are concessions the company is seeking from the union. Pasqualino would only say they involve pension and benefits.
“The union’s last offer to them included removing the concessions from the table and I guess they are not interested in doing that so they’re walking away from the bargaining table,” Pasqualino said.
In a statement Unifor national staff representative Andy Savela said, "(the company) rejected our last offer outright and walked away from the table."
The union has said workers will walk off the job at 2 p.m. Monday afternoon if an agreement has not been reached.
Pasqualino said the union’s negotiating team will continue to be available to continue the process if the company decides to resume discussions.
The national president of Unifor, Jerry Dias, is expected to arrive in Thunder Bay Sunday afternoon to meet with the bargaining committee.
A strike is not the preferred option, Pasqualino said.
Pasqualino is concerned a strike could negatively impact the workforce at the plant long-term, as some employees might seek other opportunities and not return to their posts.
“My biggest concern is that if it’s not settled we will have a hard time replacing the workers that work elsewhere. If it’s a likely strike our workers are certainly in demand in other places,” he said.
The previous contract expired on May 31 and workers had resoundingly given union brass approval to strike if talks were unsatisfactory. It has been reported 100 per cent of the skilled-trades workers and 99 per cent of the general membership supported job action.
The union represents close to 1,100 employees at the Thunder Bay plant.
Bombardier issued a statement to Dougall Media Saturday evening where they confirmed talks had hit a standstill, but expressed optimism a deal could be reached prior to the deadline.
"Bombardier Transportation came to the negotiations table today with an even better competitive offer but yet Unifor Local 1075 is still adamant that they will not talk any concessions," the statement read.
"We are now at an impasse but remain hopeful that we can successfully reach an agreement before the strike deadline on Monday."