Teamsters Canada says it will challenge the planned closing of Flextronics International Ltd.'s Montreal plant this September, in an effort to save 700 high-tech jobs.

Teamsters said Flextronics is being forced to lay off the workers because the manufacturing plant's most important customer, Nortel Networks Corp., was demanding cheaper prices.

The work will be shifted to other suppliers, including a Flextronics plant in Mexico.

"We are going to fight until the end to make sure these jobs stay in Montreal," said Stéphane Lacroix, a Quebec-based spokesman for the union. "We think Nortel's behaviour in this is unacceptable."

The workers – including engineers and technicians who earn between $25 and $45 an hour – will be laid off gradually, starting in late March, one employee told The Gazette.

A spokesperson for Nortel couldn't be reached for comment last night.

Calls to Flextronics' California-based spokesperson weren't returned yesterday.

"This was a difficult decision, arrived at by Flextronics in close consultation with key customers and partners, based on business needs," read a memo distributed to employees this week.

"Over (the) coming months, the work done on behalf of Nortel by Flextronics in St. Laurent will transition to Flextronics' Guadalajara facility, to other contract manufacturers and, in some cases, back into Nortel itself."

The St. Laurent plant, which manufactures circuit boards and fibreoptic wires, among other products, was previously owned by Nortel. In 2005, Nortel sold the plant, among other operations, to Singapore-based Flextronics.

But Nortel remained the plant's largest customer until a contract between the two companies recently ended, Lacroix said. After the contract ended, Nortel began asking for lower prices, said the Flextronics employee who didn't want his name published.

Several Flextronics engineers and technicians had travelled to Mexico to train workers at the company's plant in Guadalajara, the employee said.

Information: Stéphane Lacroix – 514-609-5101