October 28, 2015 / 11:36 PM / in 3 years

Toronto workers reject Bombardier bid to build plane parts offshore

MONTREAL, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A Bombardier plan to move manufacturing of cockpits and wings for its Q400 turboprop plane to a lower cost supplier in China or Mexico was rejected by its Toronto workers despite backing from union leaders, a union representative said on Wednesday.

Union leaders at the Toronto manufacturing facility had supported a deal to offer retirement packages to 200 workers whose positions would be cut, enabling Bombardier to shift the work offshore. Workers rejected the plan on Saturday, said Merv Gray, a union plant chair.

The plane and train maker is under pressure to lower costs because of fierce competition from turboprop rival ATR, co-owned by Airbus Group and Italy’s Finmeccanica.

ATR had a backlog of 280 aircraft sold and waiting to be produced at the end of 2014. The Q400 had 51 aircraft in its production pipeline.

Gray said he supported the proposal because it would save the majority of the 1,100 jobs at the plant. He said he was not aware whether a final decision had been taken by the company.

“I’m eagerly awaiting a call from Montreal (Bombardier’s head office) on this,” Gray said. “We want to save the program because if the program goes down then that’s 1,100 jobs.”

A Bombardier aerospace spokeswoman declined to comment on Wednesday.

The pushback by workers over the Q400 comes at a time when Bombardier has been looking at a wide range of options to help fund its long over-budget CSeries program of narrow-body jets.

Bombardier, which will report third-quarter earnings on Thursday, will announce a deal with the Quebec government to invest in the CSeries and write down the value of that project and the mothballed Learjet 85 program by more than $4 billion, sources familiar with the matter said. (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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