Nfld. & Labrador

No end in sight for D-J Composites lockout in Gander

Employees at a Gander aerospace manufacturing plant say it could be a while before the employer and the union meet again.

Workers enter their fourth week of a lockout at the aerospace manufacturing plant this week

Workers at D-J Composite have been without a contract since March 2015. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

As the lockout for employees at D-J Composites enters its fourth week, both the employees at the aerospace manufacturing plant and the Newfoundland and Labrador government say it could be a while before the employer and the union meet for discussions. 

"We're strong, we're united. And we have the support of the town and local business," said Will Davis, who has worked the manufacturing plant for 15 years.

"We're going to stay out here until we get what we want, what we deserve, " said Davis, one of 34  workers with Unifor Local 597 who were locked out of their jobs on Dec. 9.

Davis said other business have helped keep morale high with by donating free lunches and money to help those on the picket lines. 

Fight for fairness

Sheila Skiffington, who has been with the company for 15 years, disagrees with how the company is characterizing the workers' wages.  

We cannot go on like we're going.- Sheila Skiffington

"They were saying the majority of the people there are making $16.20 an hour. I'm here 15 years, I get $12 an hour," she said. 

"They (won't give us anything) for our contract, but they hired two supervisors before we went out on strike. So if they don't need us, why did they hire two supervisors?" 

Skiffington said the locked-out workers are prepared for "the long haul" in the dispute. 

"We need to be. We need to show them that we're strong and they have to man up," she said.

"We cannot go on like we're going."

Conciliator in place since August 

Gerry Byrne, the minister responsible for labour relations, said the provincial government has been involved in the process from the beginning, but there's only so much it can do. 

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne is responsible for labour relations in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

"The provincial government has had a conciliator talking to and working with both the union, Unifor, and the employer, D-J Composites, since August of 2016," he said.

"They're still in place, on the job and trying to broker a means for a solution on [these] very, very difficult circumstances."

But with no recent talks and no talks planned for the future, Byrne said it could be a while before a resolution is made.  

"In order for a meeting of all three parties, what has to be in place is a reasonable possibility for a resolution. At this point in time, there's not a reasonable expectation that a resolution can occur."

On Dec. 22, 2016, D-J Composites released a statement saying it offered to increase wages slightly over the next few years in contract negotiations, but the offer was unanimously rejected by workers.

The original contract expired in March 2015. 

D-J Composites Inc. and employees, members of Unifor Local 597, are in a labour dispute. (D-J Composites Inc.)

with files from the Central Morning Show