Hi Guys, please avoid to book ticket in AIR CANADA, as it may go on strike.
Please refer below post.Ottawa to try and head off Air Canada strike
Scott Deveau Sep 18, 2011 – 9:49 PM ET
The federal labour minister, Lisa Raitt, is expected to meet face to face Monday with Air Canada's management and the leadership of the union representing its flight attendants in a last-ditch effort to avoid a strike at the country's largest carrier this week.
But a precedent was established over the weekend on one of the more contentious issues in the talks, management's efforts to move new hires into a less-costly defined contribution pension plan, with an arbitrator siding with the Canadian Auto Workers in a similar dispute at the airline.
The Air Canada Component of CUPE, which represents 6,800 of the airline's flight attendants, served strike notice late Friday, saying they were prepared to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning if they are unable to reach a new labour agreement by then.
Talks continued throughout the weekend in Montreal, but the parties remain apart on several wage, work rule, and the pension issues.
“After five days of hard bargaining, the position of the employer remains unacceptable to the union,” CUPE said in a statement over the weekend. “On Saturday evening, union representatives provided the employer with a comprehensive offer. At this point in time, the union is waiting for the response.”
The talks have been clouded by a series of tersely written letters between the union's president, Jeff Taylor, and the airlines management. CUPE also took out a series of ads in newspapers across the country appealing to the public to support their cause.
But Ms. Raitt said she wants to meet both parties Monday if a new labour pact is not reached.
“Her intention is to find out how far the parties are apart, and to help them find a process to get a deal,” said Ashley Kelahear, a spokesperson for the minister.
Air Canada has a contingency plan in place, which is expected to see management and replacement workers fill in for some of the striking flight attendants. But the airline said it would be forced to operate a ‘partial schedule' in the event of strike, and industry observers expect it would be much more disruptive than the previous three-day strike in June by 3,800 of the airline's sales and service agents, who are represented by the CAW.
Because of the uncertainty, Air Canada has offered its customers who planned to travel over the next six days the opportunity to rebook their flights free of charge.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. also said it would bolster its own schedule in the event of a strike. Air Canada's flight attendants overwhelmingly rejected a new tentative agreement last month saying after 10 years of concessions the proposed deal contract fell short of what they were seeking.
Ottawa has, however, already demonstrated with the CAW strike that it wouldn't hesitate to act. Ms. Raitt tabled a back-to-work bill in Parliament just two days into the CAW strike, and industry observers expect she would introduce similar legislation in the event of another strike.
The CAW did manage to reach a new agreement in June just minutes after the back-to-work bill was tabled, after agreeing to send the most contentious issue of moving new hires into a less-costly defined contribution pension plan before an arbitrator.
A decision was handed down Friday in that matter in a final offer arbitration process, whereby either the final offer of the union or the airline would be accepted.
In his 62-page decision, the arbitrator, Kevin Burkett rejected the airline's continued efforts to move the new hires into a 100% defined contribution pension plan, opting instead for the CAW's proposal of a hybrid system, whereby a portion of the CAW member's pension benefits would be guaranteed upon retirement, with the remainder put into a defined contribution program.
The decision will almost certainly set a precedent not only for the flight attendant talks, but also for the negotiations with Air Canada's pilots, its machinists, and its dispatchers, who similarly must negotiate new labour agreements this year and with whom the airline is seeking similar concessions.
Mr. Burkett said in his decision that although the move away from a defined-benefit programs is commonplace now, it is also true that many corporate pension plans are still structured this way.
“Having decided that both final offers meet the sustainability threshold and having carefully assessed both final offers against the relevant criteria for determining which is “best,” we have selected the union proposal,” he said in his decision.
The new pension scheme will apply to all new CAW hires after the union's tentative agreement was ratified on June 27th.
“This is an extremely important ruling and demonstrates that no employer that no employer, regardless of how large or small, should believe they have the unmitigated right to destroy worker's retirement security,” said Ken Lewenza, CAW president, in a statement.