April 9, 2018
GANDER - Aerospace workers in Gander, Newfoundland voted 97 per cent against the latest offer from D-J Composites, their American employer who locked them out of work 16 months ago.
“As workers we have made it clear from the beginning that we are not prepared to turn over control of our wages to the employer through a proposed pay system that creates wage uncertainty, and opens the door to potential wage cuts on an annual basis.” said Iggy Oram, Unifor Local 597 unit chair. “In addition, the company had made clear, they intend to lay off up to a third of the workforce, but has refused to identify who would be laid off. It is ridiculous to expect a worker to cast a ballot not knowing if you will have employment under the company’s offer.”
The employer’s last offer comes after the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board found the company twice guilty of breaking provincial labour law, first in May 2017 and again in March of this year.
“The company’s offer is unfair, unreasonable, abnormal, and deliberately tries to divide the membership. Quite simply, it is designed for rejection. We have seen this throughout the bargaining process," said Shane Wark, Assistant to Unifor’s National President, following yesterday’s vote in Gander. “This is borne out by the fact that the offer rejected by our members yesterday was not unlike the offer proposed by the employer and rejected by our members in late 2016.”
In fact, the current offer is even worse than in 2016. Based on the company’s latest proposal, no member would know if they would be returning to work; and if they did return to work there is no guarantee of what job they would have; and if they had a job to return to, their wages could be reduced a year after they return.
“The law requires parties to bargain in good faith and make reasonable efforts to reach a collective agreement," said Lana Payne, Unifor’s Atlantic Regional Director, who has repeatedly raised concerns about the province’s inadequate labour laws. She added, “The fact that this employer has faced no real consequences after two violations has emboldened them in their attack on these workers. It’s a shameful demonstration of the inadequacy of the province’s outdated labour laws which have allowed an American employer to deny workers their rights, and make a mockery of the rules.”.
As of today, Unifor’s request for a meeting in February with the Newfoundland and Labrador premier remains unanswered.