GANDER, NL, Dec. 20, 2016 /CNW/ - Workers at D-J Composites Inc., a Gander-based aerospace company owned by a U.S. firm, locked out its employees, members of Unifor local 597 late Monday evening.
"The members, skilled aerospace workers, have been trying for nearly two years to respectfully negotiate a reasonable, fair deal and just days before Christmas this American owned company puts its employees out of work. Words can't express my disappointment with this attitude," said Brian Murphy, Unifor National Servicing Representative for the workplace.
The company is demanding wage freezes for up to five years for some of the employees and three years of wage freezes for others with a small increase of 15 cents an hour in 2018, and 20 cents in 2019. Unifor has indicated that it is ready at any time to return to the bargaining table to work towards a fair contract that provides good jobs to Gander.
In response to the lock-out a picket line at the Gander facility was set up Tuesday morning. After 22 long months trying to bargain a new collective agreement the employees authorized a strike with a 100 per cent vote mandate. The union had informed the company that it was more than willing to continue at the bargaining table. This was despite the fact the employer had worsened its offer to the over 50 workers, which includes 19 on lay off, after an earlier offer was rejected in late October.
"This employer has always been extremely difficult to deal with over the years," said Carolyn Wrice, President of Unifor Local 597. "Our members are rightfully upset at the lack of progress at the bargaining table and with this lock-out just days before the holidays."
Unifor's Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne said "Unifor members understand the challenges of a globally competitive aerospace industry and they have shown over and over again how willing they are to meet the standards expected. What we expect in return is a fair collective agreement with decent wages and benefits to sustain good jobs in the community."
Unifor remains ready to negotiate a fair contract that provides good jobs to Gander.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information: Brian Murphy, Unifor National Representative at 709-728-8966; Carolyn Wrice, President of Local 597 at 709-725-4884; Kathleen O'Keefe, National Communications at Kathleen.OKeefe@unifor.org or (cell) 416-896-3303.