Aveos workers take case to Quebec assembly

Busloads of workers from aircraft repair company Aveos are expected at Quebec's national assembly today, to ask the province to take legal action to save their jobs.

About 200 people in buses and more in cars were headed for Quebec City on Wednesday morning, said Marcel St. Jean, president of Local 1751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, speaking to CBC News from his car.

"It's a mood of desolation," he said. "It's like having another big slap in the face…. Yesterday we had the bad news that Aveos is finally bankrupt, and it's gonna be liquidated. So what does it say to us? It says everybody is out of a job. But you know, we're talking about 1,800 jobs in Quebec, and around 3,000 for the rest of the country.

Aveos has laid off almost all its 2,600 unionized employees and is liquidating its assets. St. Jean said the overall number may be 3,000 when non-unionized workers are included.

"[What] we're going to be asking today is, please intervene and go after Air Canada in court if you have to," St. Jean said. "Because we're saying that Air Canada is not respecting the Air Canada Act."

Aveos said Tuesday it is shutting three main plants in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal, as well as other facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, and Trenton and Mississauga in Ontario.

Union spokesman Bill Trbovich said the workers affected include:

- 1,785 in Montreal.

- 412 in Winnipeg.

- 356 in Vancouver.

The company, which gets about 90 per cent of its business from Air Canada, says a drop in work has cost it millions of dollars in revenue in recent months.

Aveos also says an offer of $15 million from Air Canada isn't enough to keep the company going.

The airline offered the financial pledge Monday afternoon after "months of protracted negotiations," but that didn't "appropriately address Aveos's challenges" and made "clear that a restructuring under [creditor protection] would not be possible," a company release said.

Missing some landing gear

Air Canada said Tuesday it was disappointed in Aveos's decision to reject the emergency financing.

The airline had said three wide-body planes and several narrow-body aircraft were sitting in Aveos facilities across the country, some missing landing gear.

"Since the beginning of the year, [Aveos's] principal customer reduced, deferred and cancelled maintenance work, which resulted in approximately $16 million in lost revenue in less than two months," Aveos said in its release.

"While Aveos remained ready, willing and able to perform such work, such work did not materialize. This was a devastating blow to Aveos."

The airline said Tuesday that work was deferred when Aveos could not comply.

Air Canada said 3,000 passengers could be stranded daily if Aveos doesn't finish ongoing work on some of its planes.