THUNDER BAY -- Bombardier is accusing national union representatives of spreading false information three days prior to when members of Unifor Local 1075 cast secret ballots on the company’s final offer, potentially ending the nearly six-week long work stoppage at the city plant.
Bombardier spokeswoman Stephanie Ash issued a statement Saturday evening saying communication from the union indicating nearly 500 workers would be denied the current defined pension plan is “100 per cent untrue.”
She adds that all 900 striking employees, who work on subway and streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission as well as trains for the GO commuter service, will maintain their defined pension plan.
A copy of Bombardier’s offer was obtained by Dougall Media earlier this week.
Pensions are identified as Item 2 of the proposal and it is stated that “all employees hired pre May 31, 2014 are enrolled in the present Defined Benefit plan.”
Under the offer all workers hired after May 31, 2014 would be enrolled in a defined contribution plan with both the company and employee each contributing three per cent of the employee’s base salary towards their pension.
However, Item 3 of the proposal identifies benefits and states all employees hired after Dec. 31, 2010 are ineligible for benefits at early retirement before age 65 and would receive a lump sum payment of $350 one week after ratification.
Workers hired after May 31, 2014 would be ineligible for benefits at early retirement.
A media release issued by a third-party marketing firm Friday claimed all workers hired after Dec. 31, 2010 would be denied the current defined pension plan and retiree benefits.
Ash said copies of the contract offer have been sent to all Unifor Local 1075 members.
Local Unifor 1075 member T-Jay Hook responded to the statement and said the original release was just an error by the national communications department. He said all members are fully aware of the details of the company's offer.
He added that Bombardier blew the mistake out of proportion.
"It's unfortunate Ms. Ash and the company continue to try and spark conflict and create division where none exists," he wrote.
He clarified that 500 workers at the plant would be impacted by the early retirement clause in the offer.
The company last week was granted permission by the provincial Ministry of Labour to hold the supervised vote this coming Tuesday.
Earlier this week Bob Orr, assistant to the Unifor national president, said the move was an attempt by the company to circumvent union leadership.
The offer that will be voted upon was proposed by Bombardier during a meeting on Aug. 16. The union was offered 48 hours to review the deal but instead promptly rejected it.
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said a deal that still included concessions to the pension plans and retirement benefit packages could not be accepted.