Air Canada flight attendants vote down tentative agreement, plan strike

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Published: October 11, 2011

Air Canada 777-300. By Rob Finlayson

Air Canada (AC) flight attendants voted down a tentative labor agreement for the second time in three months, setting the stage for a possible strike this week that could significantly disrupt the airline’s operations.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing nearly 7,000 AC flight attendants, had lifted its call for cabin crew to strike after reaching a tentative agreement with airline management on a new labor contract last month ( ATW Daily News, Sept. 26 ). But AC said in a statement displayed on the front center of its website Monday that CUPE has given management a new strike notice warning that a work action is set to commence Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

“We are perplexed and disappointed that two tentative agreements negotiated in good faith with and unanimously recommended by the democratically elected representatives of our flight attendants have failed to be ratified,” AC executive VP and COO Duncan Dee said.¬†“Air Canada remains hopeful that a disruption can be avoided.” According to reports in the Canadian media, more than 60% of the flight attendants voted against the tentative accord even though union leaders urged adoption.

With fears growing over a major disruption in Canadian air services, the dispute between AC management and CUPE is quickly moving to the top of the country’s political agenda. Amid calls for an intervention from Ottawa, Canadian Labor Minister Lisa Raitt said in a statement, “The government will be considering its options. However, we will be clear that a work stoppage is unacceptable in this time of fragile economy.”

AC said it is developing contingency plans. “In the event of a work disruption, Air Canada will¬†implement a partial schedule including Air Canada Express flights operated by its regional partner airlines (Jazz Air, Sky Regional Airlines, Air Georgian and EVAS Air),” it explained.

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