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Bombardier CEO meets Montreal union in push for labor peace

·1 min read

MONTREAL, June 17 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc. Chief Executive Eric Martel is meeting Friday with a union representing Montreal workers on a key business jet program as the corporate planemaker aims to avert further labor strife.

Around 1,800 Bombardier workers, mostly on the company's strong-selling Challenger business jet family, walked off the job on Monday after rejecting a contract offer due to pay.

The Challenger accounted for just over a third of Bombardier's plane deliveries in 2021.

Business jet companies are filling up order books on higher demand from wealthy travelers to fly private due to COVID-19, but a recent market sell-off and recession fears have raised questions over the strength of the market.

A Bombardier spokeswoman confirmed Martel agreed to attend a meeting with the union on Friday but did not offer further details.

A source familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously about the private talks said Martel was participating at the negotiating table, an uncommon move for a Bombardier CEO.

The union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), is asking for higher wage increases in the last two years of the contract, arguing that Bombardier's offer of up to 2.5% falls below rising living costs.

Canada's inflation rate hit 6.8% in April, a 31-year high. "What they want in their next contract is the recognition of the sacrifices that they made during the last few years to help the company and that higher living costs are taking into consideration," said union spokesman Eric Rancourt this week in a statement.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert Editing by Nick Zieminski)