The Rolls-Royce union is protesting in front of Francois Legault’s office

The Rolls-Royce Canada Workers Union protested in downtown Montreal this morning to put pressure on the Lachine-based aeronautics company.

About 200 protesters were present, from Place Jean-Paul Riopelle to Francois Legault’s office, to question the Prime Minister about the lockout situation. According to the union, the company was subsidized by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, which the company denies.

“We want to convey to the public that Rolls-Royce Canada benefits greatly from government subsidies. […] And we are the ones who pay for it”, explains François Enault, Vice-President of the Commission of National Trade Unions (CSN).

With inflation breaking records, “employers asking for a rollback in a collective agreement is unacceptable,” the CSN president continued.

About 200 protesters gather in downtown Montreal on August 3, 2022 to condemn the lockout imposed by Rolls-Royce Canada. Alexis Fiocco / Metro

The union is protesting against a lockout imposed by the Lachine-based company last March after it refused to accept a new collective agreement. According to him, Rolls-Royce Canada wants to replace the current pension plan with a defined contribution pension fund, and impose a salary freeze for the years 2020 and 2021, when employees have been without a collective agreement since March 2020. According to François Enault, this new system “places all the risks of the pension system on the backs of the workers; It is unacceptable”.

Several union executive members underlined the specificity of the labor shortage context. “We do not understand the employer’s strategy. If they close, we’ll go work somewhere else, they’re looking for it everywhere,” said Richard Dufour, the union’s general vice-president.

In an email sent SubwayManagement says it “recognizes the importance of continuing our discussions and the need to reach an agreement that will ensure a sustainable future for the company”.

Mr Enault, however, condemned the “wild lockout in the middle of winter” by a company receiving government subsidies. He demanded wage increases that followed inflation, when the latter reached more than 8%.

As the provincial election campaign approaches, the union’s president, Frédéric Lebel, wants to put pressure on the premier and the CAQ to “rectify the situation with the employer.” “It’s his voters who are on the streets,” said the union president. Arriving in front of Francois Legault’s office, Mr Lebel spoke directly to the Prime Minister: “It is unacceptable to hide in the middle of a lockout, shame on you!”

Protesters carry CSN flags to protest Rolls-Royce Canada.
Alexis Fiocco/Metro

“We will not give up”

For the union’s general vice-president, the protest was a “call for help” to the prime minister, but he explained that he still wanted to “continue to take action and be heard”.

The 15-year Rolls-Royce worker said he was disappointed the company continued to be disrespectful [aux employés]After 4.5 months [de lock-out]”

According to this employee, Rolls-Royce complained about the financial difficulties the company endured during Covid-19. But, according to him, “People who say they lost money have 60% of their salary as a bonus, it’s a bit embarrassing”.

“We will continue as long as it takes,” another employee said.

The employer’s latest offer was rejected by the union by 75% at a general assembly on 24 July. “The morale of the army is very good, people want to continue fighting. We are not the ones who chose to leave, it was the employer who put us on the street, but now we will return on our terms,” said the vice-president of CSN.

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