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Striking Bombardier rail workers to vote Wednesday on conciliator proposal

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Bombardier rail-equipment workers in Quebec will vote Wednesday on a recommendation from the conciliator to end a month-long strike.

The union representing about 330 workers at La Pocatier, Que., said Monday that it will convey its recommendation to workers at the meeting, the time and location of which haven't been disclosed.

Conciliator Jean Poirier submitted his recommendation to the company and an affiliate of the Confederation of National Trade Unions after talks resumed last week.

The union had reportedly submitted a new offer to the company.

Subcontracting, pension and salaries have been the key issues for the workers who have been without a contract since Sept. 30, 2011 and who have been on strike since Nov. 1.

They overwhelmingly rejected the company's offer at a lengthy meeting Nov. 22.

Bombardier characterized its proposal as a generous offer that raises wages and pension benefits and contained a commitment to invest in new technology at the plant northeast of Quebec City.

Spokesman Marc Laforge said the offer included a 12.5 per cent wage increase over five years, a $9-million pension plan contribution that would raise employee benefits by 18 per cent and a commitment to invest $3 million in new state-of-the-art laser welding technology that would return some jobs that were outsourced to the United States.

He said at the time that it may be willing to make some adjustments but the final contract cost must remain within the framework of its last offer.

Bombardier has insisted it will meet its commitment to deliver 420 Toronto subway cars and interior finishings for 706 Chicago transit cars. It also has contracts for 100 multi-level New Jersey transit cars, 54 multi-level cars for Maryland transit, along with nearly 500 Montreal Metro cars, which aren't yet in production.