MDA Quebec engineers and scientists vote in favour of strike mandate

Given the employer’s refusal to stop its arbitrary and abusive practices, the Quebec engineers and scientists of MDA, a leader in spaced-based radar and satellite communication systems, voted 87 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. The Space Systems Engineers and Scientists Association (SSESA) is criticizing the employer’s refusal to address job insecurity and loss of expertise issues, while merely proposing superficial and cosmetic modifications to the collective agreement.

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These specialists, who are the backbone and expertise of the company and who contribute to the promotion of Canadian aerospace engineering, are exposed to arbitrary practices by the employer, according to SSESA. According to the association, MDA does not take into account the expertise and specialization developed over time, the seniority or the dedication of its employees when downsizing is necessary. These experienced engineers and scientists have often developed iconic solutions that are internationally recognized but are dismissed in favour of less experienced employees solely for the purpose of saving a few dollars. The SSESA said it is concerned about this workforce management style, since it comes at the expense of quality and knowledge transfer.

Without a labour agreement since April 2019, MDA’s Quebec engineers and scientists have contributed to Canadian achievements in space, including Radarsat, the Canadarm and the International Space Station. MDA is not respecting them by arbitrarily laying off experienced employees with cutting-edge expertise, according to SSESA.

These practices from the employer are leading to a loss of expertise and quality for the entire Canadian aerospace sector. In fact, the highly specialized employees dismissed by MDA are faced with a heartbreaking choice: leave the country or retrain in another sector.

“During the last year, about 20 people have experienced arbitrary layoffs from MDA. Each time, the Canadian expertise in aerospace is being squeezed out, because these highly specialized engineers are either going to work in another country or leaving the aerospace industry,” said Rudi Phillion, president of the Space Systems Engineers and Scientists Association (SSESA).

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Also, the employer is interested in increasing its use of employment agencies to fill positions, often as a result of layoffs. Even if these subcontractors are competent, their services are only temporary and contribute to the loss of work history and expertise. The SSESA is concerned by this desire to make company specializations even more precarious.

“We ask MDA to put an end to its arbitrary and abusive practices carried out over the past several years. We do want to negotiate with the employer, although they have to agree to discuss job security,” Alexandre Grenier, SSESA negotiator.

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