Former Aveos workers ignore protest ban, demonstrate against Air Canada mangement
Published Thursday, March 22, 2012 7:55PM EDT
MONTREAL - Former Aveos workers tried to prevent bus-loads of Air Canada managers from getting to work Thursday, defying a court order banning them from such actions.
The aircraft maintenance workers held a demonstration in Quebec City on Wednesday, but on Monday and Tuesday they rallied near Trudeau Airport.
The employees are upset their company, which used to be a division within Air Canada before it was spun off into its own company, has applied for bankruptcy protection and is planning to shut down.
Aveos relied on Air Canada for 90 percent of its revenue.
The 1,800 aircraft maintenance workers still don't know if they will receive a severance pay or pension.
"I feel tossed out into the street like garbage," said Terry Burns, former Aveos employee.
Police tried to cool tempers but even the union leaders couldn't prevent their men from blocking the road.
"I tell my guys, and my guys reply, John, you got an injunction, that's not my problem," said Jean Poirier, union representative.
The workers are also frustrated that their cause is being overshadowed by the student demonstrations.
"They're still in school. We're trying to make our livelihood right now," said Andrew Bane. "And right now we don't even know if we have a paycheque."
Quebec Transport Minister Denis Lebel refuses to say whether he will challenge Air Canada's decision to outsource some maintenance work outside the country.
Opposition MP Justin Trudeau told the workers the best he could do was put pressure on the government.
"The law is very clear," said Trudeau. "Air Canada has to maintain the maintenance in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. The fact the government isn't enforcing that law is something that we've drawn attention to."
The NDP is expressing concern about the quality of the maintenance work done abroad.
"What Air Canada does is, they're sending the planes to El Salvador, to China," said Eve Peclet, NDP MP for Pointe-de-l'Ile. "We know security isn't the same in China and El Salvador."
Late Thursday afternoon Air Canada announced that its own maintenance staff in Canada would provide the upkeep of its fleet for the time being.
Alan Butterfield, Vice President Maintenance and Engineering, said that Air Canada was seeking new maintenance companies to replace Aveos and "strongly favours" companies who provide services in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto whose workforces he described in a press release as, "well-trained, skilled and talented."
The carrier said it would focus on companies whose maintenance and repair costs are "competitive on a global scale," and which intend to exercise "a part of their activities in one or more of these cities, using the expertise of Canadian aviation technicians."
With files from The Canadian Press