Thunder Bay

Unifor claims Bombardier not following recall rules after strike

The union representing workers who have just ended their strike at Bombardier feels the company is not following the back-to-work protocol.

Thunder Bay light rail plant back in operation after union, company agree on contract

The union representing workers who have just ended their strike at Bombardier feels the company is not following the back-to-work protocol.

Shop steward CJ Hanlon said about 200 out of the 900 members of local 1075 are back in the plant today — but how they were selected to return is a concern for the union.

“We had an agreement in place that if they were bringing back certain areas, there would be senior employees in those areas,” he said.
CJ Hanlon, a finisher at Bombardier, says "there are junior guys being brought back before the senior guys" at the Thunder Bay Bombardier light rail plant. He said this contravenes the agreed-upon back-to-work protocol. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

“As of right now, there are junior guys being brought back before the senior guys.

Bombardier Transportation spokesperson Stephanie Ash said the company committed to issue call-backs based on seniority where feasible.

“But obviously the business has to come first, which means that we can't have people standing on an assembly line with nothing to do if there are no parts that have been built yet,” she said.

“So it's a little bit of a balance right now.”

In the meantime, Hanlon said the union has “a guy there [in the plant] getting a list of people together trying to figure out why they're doing what they're doing."

Vacation time issues

By the end of this week, close to 300 Unifor members will have been recalled, Ash said. The rest will follow in stages over the next week or two.
Stephanie Ash, spokesperson for Bombardier. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"It's been a really good return to work today,” Ash continued.

“The mood has been good.  We haven't had any incidents and so we're just pleased to see everyone coming back to work and getting back to business as usual.”

But there is another wrinkle in the back-to-work protocol that is bothering the union.

“We were also told that if somebody isn't being brought back right away — let's say they are out for the full two weeks —they would not be using their vacation time. It would be up to the individual employee whether or not they wanted to take that option,” Hanlon said.

“As of now, a lot of people that I've talked to [say] they're being told that they are using their vacation time.”

However, Ash said the company has made it clear it would like people to take vacation if possible.

“We do have some senior people who have five-to-six weeks of paid vacation left, so if they would like to get paid while they are still off, vacation is a great way to do that,” she said.

Ash said she does not believe that taking vacation is compulsory.

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