One of Quebec’s largest unions is seeking a court injunction that would force Air Canada to reopen a maintenance center in Montreal.
The Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) wants the airline to respect a Quebec Court of Appeal decision that confirmed it had violated its articles of incorporation when it failed to re-open a maintenance centre that went bankrupt more than three years ago.
It filed the request for an injunction in Quebec Superior Court on Friday.
Federal legislation, passed in 1988 to privatize Air Canada, required the airline keep its heavy maintenance operations in Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga.
But Aveos — the company that ran Air Canada’s Montreal maintenance centre — went out of business in 2012, laying off more than 2,000 employees.
The Quebec government had initially promised to defend the former Aveos employees as Air Canada vowed to appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
But Quebec and Air Canada agreed to put the case on hold as part of the airline’s decision to buy at least 45 Bombardier C-Series jets.
Quebec gave Bombardier a $1.32-billion subsidy last fall in an effort to save its passenger jet program.
Serge Cadieux, the FTQ’s secretary general, accused the Quebec government of striking a deal with Air Canada behind the back of the unions representing the former Aveos workers.
“Quebec can’t afford to let go 1,800 specialized and well-paid employees,” Cadieux said.
“There must be a way for justice to be respected in this country.”
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has promised to clarify Air Canada’s articles of incorporation.
The Quebec Federation of Labour is seeking a permanent injunction to force Air Canada to conduct all of its heavy maintenance of its fleet in the country.
The FTQ filed a request Friday with the Quebec Superior Court calling on the airline to respect its obligations under the 1988 Air Canada Public Participation Act to maintain heavy maintenance aircraft operations in Quebec.
The act also applies to Ontario and Manitoba.
The provincial government had launched a lawsuit against Air Canada after Aveos Fleet Performance, which carried out much of Air Canada’s aircraft maintenance, closed in 2012 in a move that laid off 2,600 employees, including about 1,700 in Montreal.
But the government agreed to drop its lawsuit last month after the Montreal-based company signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 75 Bombardier CSeries planes.
As part of that deal, Air Canada agreed to have heavy maintenance work on the planes carried out in Quebec for a minimum of 20 years, beginning in 2019, but other maintenance work would continue in various parts of Canada along with places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said the end of the lawsuit would allow the federal government to “clarify” the Air Canada Public Participation Act to avoid future litigation.