Montreal-based Aveos locks doors, tells workers to stay home -Montreal Gazette

Employees in the dark about company’s intentions

By François Shalom, The Gazette March 19, 2012 7:00 AM

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MONTREAL – Montreal aircraft repair firm Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. padlocked it doors on Sunday, instructing many of its 1,800 Montreal employees to leave the premises at 5:30 p.m. and take their tools and belongings with them.

Workers were told to contact the company for further instructions, several people told The Gazette in emails and voicemails.

The firm, formerly owned by Air Canada, which still accounts for about 85 per cent of its revenues, may file for bankruptcy protection Monday, sources told The Gazette.

Tips from employees and others that company president Joe Kolshak and chief commercial officer Paul Lochab had quit suddenly and left the premises could not be confirmed last week.

A slew of Aveos employees emailed The Gazette Sunday about the sudden shutdown.

One source said that Air Canada is expecting the company to file under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on Monday.

Aveos spokesperson Daniela Pizzuto did not return messages late Sunday.

It wasn’t clear from statements to employees what the company’s position or intentions are.

The Gazette reported last week that suppliers were demanding cash on delivery for goods and services, rather than the usual billings.

The company has 3,000 employees in Canada, most of them in Montreal but also at repair centres in Winnipeg and Mississauga, Ont.

Air Canada has a contract with Aveos to do most of its heavy maintenance until next year, but workers have been increasingly fretful about the future of that deal after it expires. One employee’s wife said that her husband was told not to show up for work “until further notice.”

“He was told that he would be paid and that more news would be coming soon,” she said. “The manager that called could not give further details.”

Employees had to choose last July whether to stay at Air Canada or sign up with Aveos in a complicated transfer arrangement. Aveos, formerly Air Canada Technical Services, was sold off by Air Canada in 2007 to pay down debts.

Aveos denied last week it had stopped making contributions to its employee pension plan.

One person said Aveos told employees it had “ceased activities” in airframe maintenance but that engine and other work would not be affected.

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