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Province ready to work with prospective Aveos bidders

May 03 2012

B.C. has launched another bipartisan effort to try to support aircraft maintenance workers as the bankrupt Aveos company is broken up for sale.

Jobs Minister Pat Bell said Wednesday he met with NDP critic Jenny Kwan and union local president Christopher Hiscock to offer the province's support for 350 laid off B.C. workers.

The government wants to talk to anyone interested in bidding on parts of Aveos as the company undergoes court-ordered dissolution, in an effort to help maintain the heavy-aircraft maintenance industry in B.C., Bell said, adding that the government and union are ready to work with prospective bidders.

"Certainly, we're eager to talk to proponents as they think about [what role] they might play in terms of the Aveos restructuring," Bell said.

Aveos announced March 20 it was liquidating its Canadian aircraft-maintenance business after a dispute with Air Canada.

More than 2,600 people lost their jobs in shops across the country, including 350 workers based in Richmond.

The company has been split up into nine divisions for sale. The deadline for bids is May 29. The successful bidder will likely be known by June 9, Bell said.

"We would want to work with anyone and everyone in trying to find solutions and options that are viable to keep the jobs in B.C.," Kwan said.

The Opposition NDP and Liberal government partnered to pass a rare joint resolution through the legislature last month in support of the Aveos workers.

"At this point, we're basically waiting for investors to come forward," said Hiscock, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 764.

The union would prefer a buyer that keeps Aveos together as a national company.

But it is also considering a Plan B, which could include the union bidding on Aveos and running the company under some sort of employee-owner model, Hiscock said.

That scenario was discussed with Bell earlier this week, but it's too early to say what kind of support the union would ask from the provincial government if it ended up trying to buy the company, he said.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said he's not locked into a single solution for Aveos and that it makes no sense for the jobs to be lost.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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