On March 18, 2012, Aveos Fleet Performance (formerly the Air Canada Maintenance division) ceased ALL maintenance operations. This resulted in the loss of 2600 jobs for machinists in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. This comes only 8 months after members were forced to choose between remaining Air Canada employees (and potentially laying themselves off) or to transition to Aveos. The Machinists Union had warned the federal government and the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) about the viability of Aveos since 2007, when Aveos was formed. The IAMAW had been fighting to keep all the jobs as Air Canada employees. Unfortunately the message fell on deaf ears, and the CIRB allowed the transition to go ahead. Now, less than a year later, we have 2600 highly skilled Canadian aircraft maintenance workers unemployed as we watch the work go to smaller cheaper operations both inside and outside of Canada.
IAM&AW members working for Air Canada voted NO on a tentative agreement on Feb 21, 2012. The members representing Mechanics, Station Attendants and support personnel at the airline turned down the deal with 65.6% voting against it.
At the same time, this group sent a clear message to the company with 78% in favour of a strike. Armed with a strike mandate from it’s members, the negotiating committee will now return to the bargaining table.
Members of Canadian Airways Lodge 764 were in attendance supporting the union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin at the International Solidarity Rally held in Peace Arch Park, on April 2, 2011.
Unions from all over British Columbia, Washington and Oregon turned up to hear the numerous spirited speeches from Labour leaders, included BC Federation of Labour President, Jim Sinclair and Canadian Labour Congress President, Ken Georgetti. The 1,500 – 2,000 labour activists heard the horror stories of what Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s administration has legislated, stripping many workers of the fundamental right to collective bargaining.
Here in BC, we should be mindful of the events unfolding south of the border, in case our politicians decide to attempt to follow suit. We need to be politically informed and active!
Machinists from IAM&AW LL764 in Vancouver staged a successful rally at the YVR airport on Mar. 16, 2011. There were similar rallies being held across Canada all to raise public awareness of Air Canada’s violation of the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
The Vancouver machinists showed up in force with over 300 members in attendance. They heard rousing speeches from MPs Peter Julian, Don Davies, Sukh Dhaliwal and from BCFED ST, Irene Lanzinger.
The Machinists are getting mobile and are having a rally to raise public awareness of Air Canada’s violation of the Air Canada Public Participation Act (ACPPA). The rally will be at airports across Canada on March 16, 2011.
At YVR, special guest speakers – Peter Julian, MP (Burnaby/New West); Don Davies, MP (Vancouver – Kingsway); Irene Lanzinger, ST, BC Federation of Labour.
Under the ACPPA legislation, Air Canada is obligated to maintain overhaul and maintenance facilities in Canada. The Harper government claims there will be no job losses in Canada, even though the company that owns the Air Canada maintenance division (now AVEOS) has clearly indicated that it does not intend on being in the heavy maintenance business after 2013.
The IAM&AW membership feels betrayed by Air Canada’s sale of it’s maintenance operations. This is after loyal members helped save the company twice in the last decade by taking huge cuts in wages and benefits, only to be sold off to U.S. investors.
Is it mere coincidence that Aveos own a large, rapidly expanding, heavy maintenance base in El Salvador?
The CIRB has ruled that the selling off of the Air Canada maintenance division, now called Aveos, does constitute a sale of business as defined by the Labour Code.
The CIRB order is dated January 31, 2011. This has now started the clock on the 74 day period inwhich to select which company members wish to work for, Air Canada or Aveos.
On the same day, the CIRB also dismissed the IAM&AW’s application to deem Air Canada and Aveos as a common employer.
Once again the IAM&AW members at Air Canada are facing large numbers of layoffs scheduled to begin in April 2010. There will be 435 permanent layoffs system-wide, with an additional approximate 400 temporary layoffs over the summer months of 2010.
The Union has presented the company with numerous programs and ideas to mitigate some of the layoffs, however, the company has not yet responded.
These layoffs are attributed to the escalation of the A319/A320 heavy maintenance visits. The Gantt chart (maintenance schedule breakdown per base) shows large amounts of ‘white space’ or lack of aircraft in the maintenance hangars from May to Sept, 2010, at all three (3) maintenance bases (YVR, YWG, YUL).
What is quite alarming is that the membership ratified an extension to the collective agreement in July, 2009, providing the company with the labour stability it so desperately required during the 2010 Olympics, only to have these massive job cuts announced only four (4) months later! Is this “bargaining in good faith”?
Machinists at Air Canada have been sounding the alarm about the maintenance of aircraft in low-cost MROs based in third-world countries, for some time now. As predicted, airlines, faced with increased financial pressure due to the current economic climate, have begun outsourcing heavy maintenance of their aircraft to such facilities.
Recently Southwest Airlines started having B737 maintenance checks performed in El Salvador, at an MRO called Aeroman. This is the same MRO inwhich AVEOS, formerly known as Air Canada Technical Services, is a major stake-holder. Air Canada union members fear the same may eventually happen to their fleet which is currently maintained at heavy maintenance bases in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal.
With comparatively low wages, sub-standard health and safety regulations and no collective agreement to protect the abundance of available cheap labour, the playing field is definitely not level! As such, it is not possible for us to compete with these types of facilities.
For more information about the Southwest Airlines story:
IAM&AW members at Air Canada voted 60.32% in favour of a 21 month deal involving the pension plan and collective agreement issues.
The Machinists’ Union was the last of the organized groups to ratify with Air Canada. Now, the airline can continue with it’s plan to seek financing to survive the current cash-crunch it is faced with.
The Pension and Collective agreement deal for the TMOS group at Air Canada has been voted down by 50.8%!