Jul 182019

In the wake of the recent announcement from Bombardier that it will cut 550 jobs at its Thunder Bay Rail Transportation facility, the Communist Party of Canada is reiterating its call for the aerospace and transportation corporation to be placed under public ownership and democratic control.

The job cuts are devastating to the Northern Ontario city of just over 100,000 people, where Bombardier is the 8th largest employer. The announcement comes on the heels of 15,000 job cuts worldwide over the previous three years, including 3000 in Quebec and Ontario in November 2018. Over that same period, Bombardier received at least $4 billion in public bailouts from the federal, Ontario and Quebec governments.

The spectacle of Bombardier receiving billions while cutting thousands of jobs has led analysts to describe the company as “the political equivalent of a protection racket.” Bombardier’s executives have reached into the public purse time after time, while paying themselves millions in publicly funded bonuses year after year. It is a situation that shines a spotlight on the need for public ownership and democratic control of profit-making corporations who hold workers and communities ransom while lining their bank accounts and those of their richest shareholders.

As the Communist Party noted in 2017, “Private corporations have repeatedly demonstrated, in their pursuit of profit, that they cannot be relied upon to provide good jobs with fair wages and benefits, to the working class in Canada. The practice of massive public bailouts to huge corporations, in exchange for job guarantees that evaporate, must end.”

Bombardier claims that it must move the Thunder Bay jobs to the United States, so that its contracts with US cities can qualify under Donald Trump’s “Buy America” legislation. In fact, there is no evidence available to date that Bombardier has missed out on a single manufacturing contract because of Buy America. More likely, Bombardier wants to move more of its production to lower wage and lower regulation jurisdictions, including non-union right-to-work states in the US. This is exactly what the corporation did in 2017, when it inked a deal with Airbus to build C-Series jets in Alabama. In the process, while killing thousands of new jobs in Canada, Bombardier saw product orders increase by over 44% in 2018 and earnings jump by a whopping 235% in the same period.

Bombardier is a huge, profitable corporation. Its profit for the 1st quarter of 2019 was $239 million for three months, 443% higher than a year earlier. Expected 2019 sales revenues for the Transportation division are $8.75 billion, with 1st quarter contract assets in this division $233 million higher than the same period a year ago.

The Communist Party calls for the public takeover and operation of Bombardier as part of a broader set of immediate demands for jobs, climate justice and increased public transit. Public ownership of key industrial sectors, under democratic control and planning, ensures responsible economic, social and environmental stewardship.

While only socialism can systemically place the needs of workers, communities and the environment ahead of profit, the alarming realities of mass job loss, impoverishment and climate change requires radical and comprehensive policy approaches in the immediate term. The Communist Party calls on all labour and progressive forces to demand action that can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and put the interests of people and the environment ahead of private corporate profits.

Such action includes:

  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive full employment strategy based on massive public intervention in the economy;
  • Introducing plant closure legislation that forces corporations to publicly justify closure and relocation, or face public takeover;
  • Ending the sell-out of manufacturing and secondary industry, strengthening the value-added manufacturing sector, and expanding industrial employment through public takeover of corporations that are moving their operations to low wage jurisdictions;
  • Reducing reliance on private vehicles, by building and delivering free urban public transit in all major cities;
  • Building high-speed rail and rapid inter-urban rail transit as an alternative to highway and airline use;
  • Establishing a domestic vehicle industry to build small, affordable, and fuel-efficient electric cars and light industrial vehicles.

A key first step to achieving these immediate aims is to fight for and win the public takeover of huge transportation corporations such as Bombardier.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada