Montreal police dispatch anti-riot squad to remove laid-off Aveos employees
Published Tuesday, March 20, 2012 5:22PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:48AM EDT
MONTREAL - People who worked for the Air Canada spinoff company Aveos staged a sit-in Tuesday morning outside the headquarters of Air Canada.
2,400 employees, mostly in Montreal, officially received word on Monday that they have been permanently laid off as their company's earlier filing for bankruptcy become a bid for liquidation on Tuesday afternoon.
The aircraft maintenance workers, many of whom used to work for Air Canada before the maintenance division was spun off into its own company, say they have been outraged and disgusted by the way they've been treated.
The disruptions began when employees showed up at Aveos Tuesday morning in order to pick up their toolboxes and personal effects, only to discover that Aveos was not going to respect a schedule it had posted.
"No actually they told us that they were scared and won't let people in now. They're afraid we will do some whatever," said Roger Morissette, one of the laid-off employees.
A thousand people then walked to 500 Cote Vertu Blvd. and blocked the entrance to Air Canada.
As several hundred Air Canada employees parked their cars and watched, the aircraft workers protested in front of Air Canada's gates.
"A thousand workers right now are just wondering what is the next step. Where are our papers? What are we going to do next?" said IAMAW Union Vice-President Maxime Dolci.
"It's disgusting the way they got rid of us."
A judge then granted the national airline an injunction to ban protesters from interfering with people going to and from work at Air Canada.
When the legal notices were served the Montreal police sent in the riot squad to convince protesters to move.
There were several scuffles, and police fired tear gas and other chemical irritants into the air above protesters' heads.
One man was arrested when he refused to get up and move on.
Once the crowd dispersed Air Canada employees went to work.
By lunchtime only a few hundred Aveos employees were staying around the Air Canada gates.
"Between you and I, the people who are out here are a lot more professional than the people running the company now," said Morissette.
Aveos workers say they will go to Quebec City on Wednesday to demand the provincial government take action to keep Aveos open.
Air Canada has offered Aveos $15 million in an emergency loan, but employees say that will not be enough for the company to function.
With files from The Canadian Press.