Air Canada dispute ends in agreement

June 24, 2011

CAW workers on strike in CanadaWorkers at Air Canada reached a tentative deal with management last week, bringing a week-long strike to an end.

According to the ITF-affiliated Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the agreement was reached after more than 12 weeks of “gruelling” negotiations with Air Canada.

The new four-year settlement, which is being ratified by union members in meetings across the country this week, gives the 3,800 CAW members at Air Canada a fair wage package; the issue of pension benefits for new employees will be sent to arbitration. The existing defined benefit pension plan will remain in place until 1 January 2013, when it will be modified.

The workers took strike action on 14 June after talks broke down; meanwhile unions around the world responded to a call by the ITF to send messages of solidarity to the workers. Picket lines have now been removed and the workers are back on the job.

Ken Lewenza, CAW national president said: “CAW members were a strong presence in airports across the country, and with the solidarity of other union members, flights were delayed and even cancelled. It was clear that Air Canada did not anticipate such a wave of support.”

He also criticised the newly elected Conservative government for interfering in the collective bargaining process by tabling “back to work” legislation; it was he stated: “an unprecedented intrusion into free collective bargaining.”

ITF civil aviation section secretary Gabriel Mocho stated: “ITF unions will continue supporting the CAW as well as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees in their commitment to preserve Air Canada’s defined benefit pension plan for current retirees, current employees, and future employees alike.”

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