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Union at Bombardier blames parts shortage for missed deadline

Official says production fell short despite working "flat out"
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THUNDER BAY -- The president of Unifor Local 1075 says the lack of parts for some streetcars foiled efforts to meet a revised target for streetcar production at Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant.

Dominic Pasqualino was responding Tuesday to the revelation from the Toronto Transit Commission that it received only 59 of the 63 cars Bombardier had said it would deliver by December 31.  

That target had already been revised sharply downward from the original goal of almost 150 vehicles by the end of 2017.

Pasqualino told he was unsure about the precise number of cars that were delivered to the TTC by New Year's Eve. He said 61 cars had left the plant "but just because they've left the plant doesn't mean that they're in service."

Pasqualino said "I know that there were some parts shortages for some cars...But at the end of the day we had our people working flat out to do the best that we can, and I guess we came up short."

A spokesperson for the TTC said in a statement "Obviously we are disappointed."

Stuart Green said the TTC has stressed to Bombardier "the need to get us new streetcars so that we can deliver the service our customers deserve."

Green added that the delays mean that the TTC must keep its aging legacy streetcar fleet in service, and some of those units are failing in the extreme cold weather that Toronto has recently experienced.

He said some streetcar routes are being serviced by buses as a result.

A spokesperson for Bombardier management could not immediately be reached for comment.

Pasqualino echoed previous statements by the company that the measures it took to improve production in 2017 have generated momentum. "I would hope that we can continue to use that momentum and fulfill our obligation for 2018."

He noted that employees worked a lot of overtime hours before the Christmas holiday shutdown, and that many workers volunteered to come in during the Christmas break, despite the fact the shutdown is part of their contractual agreement.

"It's hard to get people to work during that time period" normally, Pasqualino said. "They decided it was important to them to do everything that they (could) to get these cars delivered."

According to the union leader, close to 900 Unifor members are currently employed at the plant.