June 23, 2009 / 6:29 PM / in 8 years

Bombardier, CAW reach tentative deal, avoid strike

TORONTO (Reuters) - A strike by nearly 3,000 workers at Bombardier’s de Havilland aircraft plant in Toronto has been avoided after the company and the Canadian Auto Workers reached a last-minute contract deal, the union said on Tuesday.

<p>Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) president Ken Lewenza listens during a news conference in Toronto in this May 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>

The company and the CAW bargained through the night and beyond the union’s 10 a.m. Tuesday strike deadline, to reach a tentative agreement that addressed the issues the union said it found contentious.

“The company wanted to hire temporary workers and that was not going to happen at all, I mean, we’re building planes here, this isn’t some kind of unskilled operation,” said Jerry Dias, assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Dias also said Bombardier agreed to continue providing healthcare benefits to the plant’s 3,000 retirees and surviving spouses.

A spokesman for the company said Bombardier would reserve its comments until after the agreement was ratified.

Ratification votes are scheduled for Sunday.

Bombardier assembles its popular Q400 turboprop aircraft at the plant, as well as the Global Express corporate jet and the wings for the Lear 45 corporate jet.

The company has been hit by a decline in business jet orders, as well as deferrals and cancellations, but it anticipates a 10 percent increase in commercial aircraft deliveries this year.

As of the end of April, the company had a backlog of 102 Q400 aircraft to be delivered to customers.

Shares of Bombardier were down 5 Canadian cents at C$3.27 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Rob Wilson

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