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Bombardier: we need mass transit not mass layoffs

Jesse McLaren

May 19, 2015

Due to reduced demand of business jets, Bombardier is laying off 1,750 workers—including 1,000 in Montreal and nearly 500 in Toronto—at a time when we need thousands of climate jobs.

Bombardier has laid off 4,500 workers since last year, and the new firings have been justified to deal with profits falling in the first quarter. But the company still made $100 million and is not cutting from the top. According to Bloomberg, CEO Alain Bellemare has salary of $881,250, a million dollar bonus and total compensation of $7,981,681 since 2014. Chairman Pierre Beaudoin get $1,268,500 salary and has a total compensation of $5,157,600 since 2014.

Instead Bombardier is maintaining its bloated CEO salaries and corporate profits on the backs of workers, and contributing to the destruction of manufacturing. As NDP Industry critic Peggy Nash said, “Canada has lost more than 400,000 good jobs in the manufacturing sector since the Conservatives came to power.”

Bombardier is pushing mass layoffs despite receiving mass government investment. Even the right-wing Fraser Institute called out their corporate welfare, writing last year: “Bombardier Inc., which recently announced it would lay off 1,700 people, has been one chronic seeker and a regular recipient of such taxpayer assistance. The Montreal-based aerospace company is thus a useful example of corporate welfare in action, the tax dollars at stake, and the regular, inflated claims about the beneficial effects of such subsidies. Bombardier’s corporate welfare began, at least federally, in 1966 when it received its first disbursement of $35 million from the federal department, Industry Canada. In the decades since, various Bombardier iterations received over 1.1 billion (all figures adjusted for inflation) in 48 separate disbursements from just Industry Canada. That includes two 2009 cheques worth $233 million… That $1.1 billion does not include tax dollars received from any other federal department or other governments, including in Ontario, Quebec and even Great Britain.

While there is reduced demand for high-carbon jets for the 1%, there is an urgent demand for low-carbon mass transit for the 99%—which Bombardier is capable of building. Its Thunder Bay facility employs 700 people to build mass transit. But at the height of WWII, the facility (then operated as Canadian Car and Foundry) employed 7,000 people as one of the biggest producers of military aircraft.

When the state prioritized global war it ensured companies employed thousands. But now that we need to prioritize mass transit to avert global warming Harper is doing nothing while Bombardier fires workers who could offer climate solutions.

This is another reason to join the march for Jobs, Justice and the Climate and to demand Harper redirect tax cuts, tar sands subsidies and military spending into climate jobs.

Join the public forum “A world beyond tar sands: the fight for climate jobs,” Tuesday May 19, 7pm at Steelworkers Hall (25 Cecil, Toronto), and the launch rally for the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate Thursday May 21 at 11am at King/Bay

Sign the online petition for climate jobs, or download the print version to circulate in your workplace, classroom or neighbourhood

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