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A file photo of Bombardier employees working on a rail car at the La Pocatière, Que. plant.

Benoit Gariepy/CP

Bombardier Inc. now has a second strike on its hands, this one at its rail facility in La Pocatière, Que.

About 330 workers at the plant, northeast of Quebec City, launched their strike action Thursday morning at 7 a.m. (EST), said Benoit Aubry, spokesman for the Confederation of National Trade Unions.

It's the first strike at the complex in 30 years.

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The move comes 4 weeks after unionized employees at Bombardier's Learjet complex in Wichita, Kan., opted for strike action.

At La Pocatière, the main sticking points are pensions, wages and outsourcing.

The plant produces subway and commuter rail cars, including for the Toronto, Montreal and Chicago transit systems.

More than 95 per cent of the unionized workers voted last Saturday in favour of giving union executives the authority to call a strike.

On Wednesday, the two sides sat down together for the first time with a conciliator.

On the issue of outsourcing, the union claims that Bombardier has failed to follow through on its promise to create hundreds of jobs at La Pocatière.

Work is being outsourced to Bombardier facilities in Ontario, the United States and Mexico, the union maintains.

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Bombardier Transportation spokesman Marc Laforge said the company is surprised the union is putting up picket lines at such an early stage of the negotiating process.

"We have not even had time to make an offer on wages," he said.

As for outsourcing, "the impact on manpower [at the plant] is slight," he said.

The company is following the terms of the agreement signed in 2010 that guarantees work for Montreal's new Métro cars will be done at La Pocatière, said Mr. Laforge.

The strike should not affect production programs at the facility, he added.

Meanwhile, officials at Bombardier's aerospace division have said the strike action at the Learjet plant in Wichita hasn't slowed down production.

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The set-to is over terms of a new 5-year contract. The unionized workers, members of Local 70 of the International Associations of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, rejected the company's offer of no raises the first year followed by 1 per cent each subsequent year.

They also object to a proposed increase in the cost of health insurance premiums.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More


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