Rolls-Royce: Workers want their share of surge in private jets

Bombardier and Gulfstream private jet engines owned by the rich and famous are piling up at a Montreal service center due to a labor dispute that has been going on since mid-March.

Rolls-Royce: Workers want their share of surge in private jets

Bombardier and Gulfstream private jet engines owned by the rich and famous are piling up at a Montreal service center due to a labor dispute that has been going on since mid-March.

• Read also: Strikebreakers at Rolls-Royce Canada

• Read also: Montreal: Rolls-Royce workers on strike

“I have worked there for 23 years and the factory has never been so full. They closed other facilities [elsewhere in the world] just before the pandemic, ”says Frédéric Labelle, president of the Rolls-Royce Canada machinists union.

Best known for its luxury cars, the British brand is also a major manufacturer of aircraft engines.

Rolls-Royce performs maintenance in Montreal on the BR700 engines that power several aircraft, including the Global from Bombardier and the G550 and G650 from the American company Gulfstream.

Currently, 38 engines are on standby at Rolls-Royce facilities located in the Lachine borough, according to Mr. Labelle.

The pandemic has been painful for air carriers, but conversely, it has led to a boom in business aviation. The wealthy have flocked to private jets to circumvent flight cancellations and minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19.

« Profits records »

Rolls-Royce saw revenue from business jet maintenance activities jump 52% ​​in 2021 to £654 million (CA$1.1 billion). In 2020, these had fallen by 7% while the company's total turnover had plunged by 29%.

“The employer has made record profits in Montreal. The workers want their fair share of the pie,” says Mr. Labelle.

For the moment, few customers seem to have felt the effects of the lockout decreed by Rolls-Royce on March 15. “They are extending the intervals between engine overhauls, but at some point they will come to a limit,” says Labelle.

"We have moved work across our global service network to ensure that we can continue to provide the high level of support that our customers expect," Rolls-Royce spokesman Donald Campbell said. a "rapid" settlement of the conflict.

Inflation

According to the union, the company wants to end the defined benefit pension plan without increasing wages in order to counter accelerating inflation.

Unusual fact, while negotiating with Rolls-Royce, the workers changed their union affiliation last year, swapping the International Association of Machinists and Aeronautical Workers (IAMAW) for the CSN.

“We have pressure from both sides, says Mr. Labelle. I have pressure from the company to cut and I have pressure from my members [...] because prices continue to rise. »


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