MONTREAL (Reuters) - A $1 billion Canadian government aid package for Bombardier Inc should not be delayed over fears that the plane-and-train maker could outsource jobs to Mexico or China, the head of Canada’s largest private sector union said on Thursday.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a telephone interview that he opposes any outsourcing of aerospace jobs, but that Canada’s Liberal government should nevertheless “plow ahead” with aid for the company’s CSeries jet even without guarantees that Bombardier will keep producing Q400 turboprop cockpit and wings in Toronto.
Executives with Montreal-based Bombardier have talked about their desire to outsource production of parts of the turboprop in an effort to lower costs and better compete with rivals ATR, co-owned by Airbus Group and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
On Wednesday, Canada’s Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who is in control of the negotiations, told reporters the government has linked any aid for Bombardier with research and development investment in Canada, the location of the company’s Montreal head office and “good-quality jobs.”
“I understand the government’s sensitivity. And I understand clearly that the optics for our government look terrible,” said Dias. “But I also understand also that this is a company that needs help ... I have to look at the bigger picture.”
Dias said the union would lead a separate battle to keep the 200 Q400 jobs in Toronto and had language in its contract that would help protect them.
“I believe there is a made-in-Canada solution,” he said.
Bombardier’s 18,000-strong workforce in the province of Quebec is largely aerospace-focused and its presence helps support many smaller part vendors and suppliers in the region.
Bombardier wants Ottawa to match the province of Quebec’s $1 billion investment in the CSeries, which is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Sandra Maler