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Hundreds of Quebec aerospace workers to be laid off at Airbus and Pratt & Whitney


May 4, 2020
By The Canadian Press

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MONTREAL – Nearly 700 workers are to be laid off in Quebec by two of the province’s main aerospace companies, Airbus Canada Limited Partnership and Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Half of the employees will be laid off Monday for an undetermined period of time in Mirabel, where the A220, the former Bombardier C Series, commercial aircraft is assembled.

Airbus Canada spokeswoman Marcella Cortellazi says the layoffs will last until it has “a clearer visibility” of its activities.

Engine manufacturer Pratt says it will cut more than 343 jobs on May 22 when its order book is reduced due to the airline industry being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Quebec government is allowing manufacturing companies to restart their operations on May 11, but restrictions on the number of employees that can work won’t be lifted until May 25.

Concerned about not being eligible for the federal emergency wage subsidy, Airbus says it will nevertheless pay $847, less applicable deductions, to more than 470 of its workers next week while awaiting their return on May 11.

News from © The Canadian Press Enterprises 2020


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1 Comment » for Hundreds of Quebec aerospace workers to be laid off at Airbus and Pratt & Whitney
  1. Ray Fisher says:

    In this article, the claim is made that Pratt and Whitney Canada is laying off 343 people in late May. While this information is true, it does not paint the entire picture accurately.

    Pratt and Whitney lay offs had already started in early April following an internal memo from the company’s president, Maria Della Posta, suggesting aggressive cost reduction measures.

    In the memo, the president suggested the cuts will include ”near term reduction in contractual work force” which meant permanent termination of many contractors in the following days, starting April 8th. These termination included about 60% of the engineering contract staff, more than 200 individuals.

    Pratt and Whitney Canada’s hiring protocol for junior engineers typically starts as contract agreements which can last for years. This mechanism helps to keep the new recruits as cost items and on the liability list rather than an employee on the pay roll. The engineering contractors are usually worse off than other contractors such as those working on shop floor because of lack of unionized representation.

    Pratt and Whitney uses a large group of engineering contract firms such as Belcan, Aerotek, Aviya and many more for the recruiting purposes and the engineering contractors especially end up with worse benefits, lower pay, easier termination, no bargaining power and no representation . As a result, the layoff of engineering contractors has not been in the news at all.

    The particular challenge with these group of employees is also in getting assistance from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) programs. Since the engineering contract employees are not technically considered company employees or part of any union, they are treated as expenses, and the CEWS effectively will not be applicable to them. In essence, these type of non-unionized workers are in the blind spot of the CEWS program. This forces a large number of highly qualified engineers with years of experience with no choice but to apply for either employment insurance or emergency response benefit.

    This hiring technique allows companies like P&WC to be able to exploit young engineers who don’t have extensive experience and in hard time dispose them. While the full time workers in company are subjected to pay cut, a similar strategy for contract workers (given the help from CEWS) could have helped keep hundreds off of the EI and CERB and puts less stress on the lives of many. This strategy of unequal employee treatment (based purely on the status of employment) can damage lives of many talented young minds, hoping to develop a career in aerospace.

    While Pratt and Whitney boasts of its motto ”dependable engines”, the employees of the firm expect more dependable and equal support during times of crisis.

    I hope this email that shares views of many former Pratt and Whitney contractors can help get attention to this segment of the Canadian work force who will have a hard time finding new employment.

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