THUNDER BAY -- Representatives of Bombardier and the union representing its striking workers met Tuesday, but according to Unifor it wasn’t about issues that really mattered.
As 900 workers at the local Bombardier plant hit the picket line for the third week, the company and union met to discuss the finer points of a railway shipment protocol should the plant get ready to send finished cars to customers.
Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said there's no timeline on when cars could be shipped out, but the union will get 72 hours notice before that happens. There were at least a few cars that were near-completion when workers went on strike. Those cars could be finished by supervisors.
"Certainly once these few cars are done they would have trouble shipping anything else. It's not going to be on an ongoing basis as far as I can tell," Pasqualino said.
Pasqualino will take the points to the union executive and give the company an answer by Wednesday .
Talks Tuesday began with the union encouraging Bombardier to get back to the bargaining table, which should be at the forefront of any discussion between the two sides, Pasqualino said.
Getting people back to work is the main problem that needs to be solved.
"I think that in some ways the company is focusing on the wrong aspects. They should be focusing on getting a settlement at this point and hopefully we'll be able to come up with some solution to that," he said.
Company representatives told Pasqualino that they would bring that message back to plant head of operations Aaron Rivers.
The fact that Rivers isn't ever at the table, according to the union, is frustrating for its members because no one at the company table has the authority to make decisions.
"It's difficult for us," Pasqualino said.
Bombardier spokesperson Stephanie Ash said the company is in the process of getting ready to ship but wants to be respectful as possible to the protocol it agreed to with Unifor.
As for getting back to negotiations, Ash said the company has been saying since the beginning that it wants to head back to the bargaining table.
"However we cannot come back to the table if Unifor is not willing to talk about any compromises," she said.
No one currently employed will be affected by the union needs to be willing to negotiate the future.
"We really believe that there's no reason for these employees to be out there. We want them back to work," Ash said.