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Workers at Bombardier commuter rail plant go on strike

Thursday, 1 Nov 2012 | 8:39 PM ET

* Quebec-based plant makes parts for rail cars

* Customers include New Jersey, Chicago transit groups

* No talks scheduled

* Second strike to hit Bombardier in a month

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Some 330 workers at a Quebec-based rail-car factory belonging to Bombardier Inc, the world's biggest train-maker, went on strike on Thursday over outsourcing and pension fund issues, the company and union said.

No further talks are scheduled, leaving all output halted at the plant, which makes parts for rail cars ordered by customers including New Jersey Transit and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said the company was in contact with customers to reassure them about their orders, which are mostly for inventory. He declined to say what Bombardier was doing to secure production.

The two sides had been in talks since February after the workers' contract expired on Sept. 30, 2011. Workers at the plant, located in La Pocatiere, Quebec, some 360 km (225 miles) northeast of Montreal, voted at the weekend to go on strike if no progress was made in talks.

The two sides had started talks with the help of a provincial government-appointed conciliator on Tuesday and were scheduled to meet for 10 days.

Laforge said the company was ``astonished'' by the walk-out.

``We had 10 days and after two days they leave the table ...,'' he said.

The union, the Confederation of National Trade Unions, could not immediately be reached for comment. It said in a statement on its website that Bombardier had proposed ``setbacks'' on outsourcing and pension issues, something Laforge denied.

The shares in Bombardier, which is also the world's third largest commercial aircraft maker, ended down 1.05 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange at C$3.76.

This is the second strike in less than a month at a Bombardier plant. Members of the machinists union went on strike at the Bombardier's Learjet facility in Wichita, Kansas, on Oct. 8 after rejecting a contract offer that would raise healthcare costs.

The company has put contingency plans in place to minimize the impact of the strike on production and deliveries, which have fallen sharply in recent years.

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