Angry workers protest closure of Air Canada maintenance firm

Workers protest the closing of the Aveos offices in Montreal, Monday, March 19, 2012. (PASCAL...

Workers protest the closing of the Aveos offices in Montreal, Monday, March 19, 2012. (PASCAL GIRARD/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

MONTREAL - Thousands of former Air Canada maintenance workers are out of a job following the closure of a maintenance firm that was spun off five years ago.

About 200 workers held a rally outside the north-end headquarters of Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., which abruptly shut down on the weekend.

Air Canada, Aveos' primary client, said the maintenance firm filed for insolvency protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Some 3,300 people are affected in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Air Canada said it provides its own day-to-day aircraft maintenance and that its operations would not be affected by Aveos' closure.

Aveos union representative Jean Poirier said he had not been informed by the company about the closure, which he called "savage."

"Mothers and fathers will all lose their jobs," he said at the Montreal rally. "It makes no sense."

Media reports about the closure emerged Sunday evening, but some employees said they were only informed when they arrived for work on Monday morning.

One man, who worked at Aveos for 17 years, said he received a call on Sunday evening informing him that he need not show up for work.

Aveos is the former maintenance division of Air Canada that was sold in 2007. The contractor negotiated a separate collective agreement with the former Air Canada workers, a move the union initially contested.

The company provided scheduled fuselage, engine and component maintenance for Air Canada and other airlines. The maintenance contract with Air Canada is set to expire in 2013.

The workers got political support Monday from Liberal critic and Montreal MP Denis Coderre, who used a megaphone to speak to the protesters. He said the Conservative government should get involved.

"I'm pissed off today, that's for sure," said Coderre. "We're losing jobs by the thousands. Something has to happen. The savage way (workers) have been treated is unacceptable."

Transport Minister Denis Lebel told QMI Agency the federal government would keep its distance.

"We are always concerned when Canadians lose jobs," said Lebel. "That said, it's a business decision made by a private company."