De Havilland Won’t Let Strike Action Affect Its Service

De Havilland Canada maintains it will continue to meet customer needs as workers go on strike. Approximately 700 De Havilland workers at the company’s Downsview plant walked off the job on Tuesday. De Havilland Canada says it is disappointed and wants workers and their union to play a part in the company’s transformation.

De Havilland Canada Dash 8 workers in Downsview have gone on strike. Photo: De Havilland Canada

De Havilland Canada negotiations with Unifor break down

Following the Downsview production plant sale to De Havilland Canada by previous owner Bombardier, Canadian trade union Unifor has been negotiating with both companies over workers’ pensions, use of contractors, and erosion of bargaining unit work.

Bombardier’s planned relocation to a new production facility at Pearson International Airport is also a sticking point. In addition to the 700 De Havilland workers, 1500 Bombardier workers from Downsview have also walked off the job.

“We will remain at the bargaining table with both companies as the strike action is ongoing,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Our union will continue to make every effort to reach a fair settlement, but we have a number of key issues to resolve with both employers.”

The Downsview workers currently manufacture the Global series business aircraft for Bombardier and Dash 8 turboprop aircraft for De Havilland Canada. In February, De Havilland Canada said beyond existing orders, it would stop making the Dash 8 at Downsview. Unifor says De Havilland Canada has failed to provide a clear plan for the future of the Dash 8 program.

“The ceasing of Dash 8 production, the company’s failure to disclose specific plans, and the owner’s refusal to meet with Unifor to discuss this important issue is a slap in the face to workers who have built these aircraft for generations,” says Dias.

Protesting Downsview workers on Tuesday. Photo: Unifor

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De Havilland Canada says Downsview was on borrowed time

De Havilland Canada says aircraft manufacturing at Downsview was on borrowed time ever since Bombardier sold the production site in 2018. The plane builder bought into the Dash 8 program knowing this was so. The aircraft manufacturer says it remains committed to the Dash 8 aircraft, but change was, and remains, inevitable.

“De Havilland Canada is eager to collaborate with the Union as we chart a sustainable long-term future for aircraft manufacturing and the skilled employment it supports,” a media statement from De Havilland Canada reads.

“But the ability to work together toward a long-term future relies on a concerted effort to transform the business to the circumstances we are facing.”

Despite the short-term decline in aircraft demand brought about by the global travel downturn, De Havilland Canada maintains an optimistic outlook about the future of the Dash 8 program. But it says the need to overhaul the Dash 8 program predates the travel downturn and 2018 sale.

“The Company has been clear since the outset that change was inevitable,” De Havilland Canada says.

Despite changes, De Havilland Canada says it remains committed to the Dash 8 program. Photo: De Havilland Canada

De Havilland Canada calls on Unifor to play its part in rebooting the Dash 8 program

While disappointed in Unifor and the strike action, the aircraft manufacturer says it wants to keep working with the union to chart a future for plane building in Canada. But De Havilland Canada says the union needs to be reasonable.

“The Union must play its part in facilitating this transformation. A fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreement is fundamental to the Company’s ability to continue to invest to develop a sustainable long-term future for the aircraft program – and the highly paid employment it supports.”

Unifor says its members work hard and deserve nothing less than an agreement that values their contribution. Unifor maintains it remains committed to reaching a fair settlement with Bombardier Aviation and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada.

De Havilland Canada’s portfolio includes support to the worldwide fleet of Dash 8 aircraft and production and sales of the plane. For as long as the strike continues, the aircraft manufacturer says it has comprehensive contingency plans in place to meet all customer needs.