Laid-off Aveos workers clash with Montreal riot squad
Published Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10:18PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:48AM EDT
Montreal police brought in an anti-riot squad Tuesday to move laid-off aircraft maintenance workers and unblock a street where they were protesting.
At the height of the protest about 1,000 laid-off Aveos workers prevented Air Canada employees from reaching their nearby workplace, CTV Montreal's Cindy Sherwin reported.
"It was fairly calm but then certainly the tension was amped up at about 10:45 a.m. when the riot police and officers moved in to try and get the Air Canada people in their vehicles to work," Sherwin said.
"There were some scuffles, there were some confrontations. We've learned there was one arrest."
The workers, who were abruptly laid off over the weekend, started demonstrating on Monday.
Plants owned by Aveos Fleet Performance were shut down in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal due to declining work orders from its main customer, Air Canada.
Other facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Trenton, Ont., and Mississauga were also shuttered.
The company said it has permanently closed its airframe repair business and filed for bankruptcy protection. About 1,800 employees have been permanently laid-off.
The remaining 800 employees who work in the company's landing gear and engine-repair divisions have not been laid-off, but their future is unclear.
Aveos has not clarified when the remaining workers will be allowed to return to their jobs -- an uncertainty that didn't sit well with employees.
"Thousands of workers are just wondering now what is the next step, what are our futures, what are we going to do next? It's disgusting the way they got rid of us," one employee told CTV Montreal.
On Tuesday, laid-off workers hoped to enter the building to collect their tools, but were initially not allowed to do so. Eventually the company allowed them in, however.
Air Canada said its business will not be affected, but the airline hopes to recover its assets, including airline components potentially worth millions of dollars.
Air Canada offered a $15-million emergency operations fund to Aveos, but workers scoffed at the proposal.
"They sneer at that," Sherwin said. "They say it's a drop in the bucket, it won't really do anything at all when you have aircraft here that cost hundreds of millions of dollars."