Airbus workers at a Canadian A220 assembly factory in Mirabel, Quebec have voted in support of a strike and are set to begin pressuring actions such as work slowdowns after overwhelmingly rejecting a pay offer from the aircraft manufacturer. 

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents 1,300 of the 3,000 workers at the factory, voted 99.6% against a new contract and 98.9% in favour of industrial action after Airbus offered a three-year contract with a 10.3% salary increase. 

David Chartrand, general vice president of the IAM Canada, said: “Our members have been working on the aircraft from the beginning. They were Bombardier employees when the then-C-Series was first introduced. 

“They made sacrifices to help the employer and the program. Now, they feel it’s time to be properly compensated as Airbus enjoys international success.” 

While the action does not mean an actual strike is imminent, the almost unanimous vote and high attendance of more than 80% will be a worrying sign for Airbus and set in motion pressuring activities such as a work slowdown or “general disengagement of production” according to the union. 

Grand Lodge representative Eric Rancourt described the pay offer as “downright unacceptable” and said that it did not keep up with inflation, asking Airbus to be “open-minded” and negotiate a contract of fair value. 

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A statement from an Airbus representative said that the offer had been made after months of discussion with the union and that while the company considered it “a rational offer” it acknowledged the results of the vote.

The company said it would continue the “constructive dialogue” with employees as it looked for an agreement that suited both parties “while ensuring the long-term success of the A220.”

The dispute comes amid the company’s ongoing ramp-up of A220 production which is hoping to reach a production rate of 14 aircraft per month by 2026. 

The French manufacturer is also reportedly experiencing delays to some of its aircraft production due to supply chain issues, with some customers told that deliveries scheduled for late 2024 and 2025 would be pushed back.