18 March, 2022On 15 March, Rolls-Royce Canada locked out 530 workers at the Côte-de-Liesse aircraft engine maintenance factory in Montréal while they were attending a general meeting to discuss progress at the bargaining table.
The 530 aircraft engine maintenance workers have been without a collective agreement since March 2020. Negotiations had been progressing slowly, and at the meeting, workers voted 94 per cent in favour of giving their union a mandate to call a strike at the appropriate time. During the meeting, the president of the company declared a lockout. The union responded by exercising its mandate immediately, and called a strike. The workers have been picketing outside the factory gates since the beginning of the lockout at 1pm that day.
The workers are represented by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Syndicat des travailleuses et des travailleurs de Rolls-Royce Canada (CSN). The union wants a five-year contract. Among other things, they are demanding the elimination of orphan clauses in the pension and group insurance plans, improved wages and work schedules, and enhanced leave.
“For months we have been arguing at the bargaining table for the needs of Rolls-Royce workers to be taken into account,” explains union president Frédéric Labelle.
“The employer's response has been disappointing. The more dismissive they are, the more our sense of belonging erodes. We are the core of this business. Without our work, which is recognized in the industry as being of outstanding quality, Rolls-Royce could not call itself a leader. We want to be treated with respect again.”
Prior to yesterday's strike vote, the union organized a number of actions to make it clear to the employer that the workers are committed to their demands. There was strong participation by the membership. There have been 25 bargaining sessions over the past few months, and members have followed the progress closely. There is strong support for the bargaining committee.
IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie sent a message of support to the union, saying:
“We find it unconscionable that the company in the middle of negotiations opted for a lockout rather than a social dialogue, particularly bearing in mind that the 530 specialized workers at the Côte-de-Liesse factory have been without a collective agreement since March 2020.”