THUNDER BAY – Work at the city’s Bombardier plant during the labour dispute with Unifor Local 1075 complies with provincial regulations, concludes Ontario’s Ministry of Labour.
Members of the local plant’s management team have resorted to working on cars at the Montreal Street plant in attempts to minimize the impact of the now one-month long strike, which involves nearly 900 employees.
Bombardier spokeswoman Stephanie Ash said the Ministry of Labour conducted an inspection Thursday afternoon following complaints that management was working on mobile equipment without proper training.
“They found no issues with what we’re doing at the plant,” Ash said.
“It was a surprise inspection and they also conducted their mandatory inspections they have to do when businesses are on strike in a labour disruption. They make sure the right procedures, policies and protocols are in place and continue to be in place during the labour disruption. They found no orders needed to be issued.”
Ash said many of the management members who are working on the cars are former Unifor employees and have direct experience working on the cars, as well as supervising.
However, Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino is still not convinced the work is completely safe.
He is concerned the training is not suitable for the experience required to operate the equipment.
“It may be technically safe but it would be like a new driver reading the drivers’ handbook and being expected to operate the car properly,” he said. “It may be legal but I don’t think it’s safe.”
While things were quiet on the line Friday morning, tensions may increase again next week as the company is planning to ship one of the new light rail vehicle cars to Toronto earlier next week.
Ash said the car would be shipped by rail, which under the agreed strike protocol the company would have to provide a minimum 72 hour notice period to the union.
An exact date and time for the move is still to be determined.
Shipment of three completed Rocket subway cars earlier this week became contentious, with Bombardier accusing the company of violating the protocol agreement.
Members marched alongside the flatbed trucks hauling the cars, at times walking in front of them while they were moving down the street.
There was also profanity and abusive language directed at personnel moving the cars as well as the police officers who were providing traffic control to escort the vehicles away from the plant.
Ash said the company is trying to learn from the incidents to ensure the next shipment will be handled more smoothly, and is exploring their options to find other solutions.
Returning to court to file another injunction is their last resort, she said.
Pasqualino said the movement of the three cars happened while the majority of union leadership was out of town, leaving the line mostly unsupervised.
He vowed there would not be a repeat of the behaviour on the line.
“If they ship the cars I’ll make sure they’ll be allowed to ship the cars,” he said.