The Machinists Union dissociates itself from the comments expressed by the government of Quebec

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Press release

The Machinists Union dissociates itself from the comments expressed by the government of Quebec

Quebec april 7 2017 – Over the past two days, the Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation, Dominique Anglade, has attempted to justify her government’s position with respect to Bombardier. She claims that we are supportive of her government. In response to the questions asked by Alain Thérrien, MNA for Sanguinet, she argued that our organization considered as “acceptable” that her government refuse to meddle in Bombardier’s affairs. Yet, from the onset, our position has been far from what Ms. Anglade has described.

The time has come to set the facts straight:

As a union, we defend values of fairness and social justice. This is what leads us to fight against all forms of social inequality. All in all, nothing justifies the fact that senior corporate executives earn on average 193 times more than the average worker in Québec, whereas 11% of salaried workers are forced to resort to food banks to eat. We must advocate for a better distribution of wealth and, as I have already pointed out, the remuneration paid to Bombardier’s senior executives demonstrates the extent of the problem and the importance of the battles waged by the labour movement in this regard. Excessive corporate executive remuneration represents a problem that must be tackled by all actors in society, including the government, whose legislative power can contribute to making our society more just.

That being said, when the Liberal government made the decision to invest in Bombardier, it had the capacity and duty to set conditions obliging the company to behave as a good corporate citizen while preparing for the start of production of the C Series. The government could have acted proactively and would have thereby prevented the political debate from getting completely out of hand. In the situation at hand, everyone risks losing in the long term.
Better financing guidelines are needed

As a union leader, I am mandated to represent thousands of workers. I must not only defend their rights and interests, but must also see to enabling them to keep their jobs. That is, moreover, the reason why I believe that Québec needs an industrial policy or rules governing corporate assistance. Said policy or rules must be clearly established and aimed at creating or keeping good jobs here in Québec. The rules must also force companies to be accountable to the citizens of Québec who, through their government, decide to invest in their projects.
On October 5, 2015, the Machinists Union presented a submission to the Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation during consultations on the Québec Aerospace Strategy, in which we suggested imposing rules and conditions on corporate financing. Unfortunately, our proposals were not taken into consideration.

Here is an excerpt that reflects the Machinists’ position:
To maximize the economic spinoffs, the government would benefit from better negotiating the subsidies it grants to the industry in exchange of job creation targets. Indeed, protections are needed to prevent employers from making use of a development aid program and then exporting the technology or work outside of Québec. Financing must be aimed such as to have a positive impact on Québec’s aerospace industry and job creation.

Ultimately, the Machinists Union does not consider the government’s position as “acceptable.” In our opinion, its lack of action and political will in this case are causing damage to the aerospace industry. The current heated debate has given rise to outbreaks that are prejudicial to the entire aerospace cluster and its workers.

David Chartrand is Québec coordinator of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and a vice-president of the FTQ