Thunder Bay

Bombardier drops requested injunction against strikers

Bombardier and Unifor officials spent hours in the Thunder Bay courthouse on Wednesday coming to an agreement on picket line protocol as 900 workers continue their strike.

Bombardier and Unifor reach agreement on strike protocol at the Thunder Bay plant

Bombardier and Unifor officials reached an agreement on picket line protocol on Wednesday, avoiding a court injunction the company had been seeking. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Bombardier Transportation Inc. has dropped its request for an injunction against the union representing about 900 striking workers at the company's Thunder Bay plant, after representatives from both sides spent hours working out a revised picket line protocol. 

Bombardier said it filed the injunction request because it was concerned about access and safety for employees and managers trying to cross the picket line. The company and Unifor unsuccessfully tried to agree on a strike protocol last week.

Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075, says he's happy with the agreement on picket line protocol reached Wednesday. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

On Wednesday, Bombardier and Unifor officials made revisions to the protocol and reached an agreement. Justice Patrick J. Flynn, via teleconference from a Kitchener courtroom, made it a legal order. 

"The best deal that both the parties can hope for is the one they ... make themselves," said Flynn. "This way you both win."

Under the revised protocol, striking workers can stop a vehicle crossing the picket line at the Bombardier plant for a maximum of five minutes. If there is a lineup of cars, the total delay cannot exceed 25 minutes. 

There is also no set limit to the number of people who can be on the picket line at once, and the company must give the union 72 hours notice before shipping any product out of the plant.  

'Something that we can work with'

"[The agreement] basically has some things in there for both of us," said Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075.  "We have something that we can work with."

Bombardier spokesperson Stephanie Ash said the company is "pleased that we're going to be able to work together to make things run safely.. [and] smoothly."

"Today we compromised on a few small issues," she added. "We're just disappointed that we had to come to court today to get to this point."

Stephanie Ash, spokesperson for Bombardier, says the company is pleased that it has reached an agreement on strike protocol with the union, but is disappointed that it took going to court to make it happen. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Ash said the revised protocol addresses safety with rules about conduct on the picket line, including how close strikers can get to vehicles and people. She told CBC News that the company had received seven reports from employees and managers who felt their safety was threatened. 

But Pasqualino said, "I don't think safety was ever an issue... Nobody was ever injured, there was no issue of that. I think if anything it was more a matter of inconvenience."

Both Bombardier and Unifor said they are eager to return to the bargaining table and resolve the labour dispute, which centres largely around a change to the pension plan for future hires, as well as changes to benefits when people take early retirement.

There is no indication from either side as to when talks might resume.  


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