Bloomberg News

Air Canada Says Strike May End Tomorrow as Agreement Reached

June 16, 2011

(Updates with airline’s comment in fourth paragraph, labor minister comment in fifth paragraph.)

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Striking employees at Air Canada have reached a tentative labor agreement and are expected to be back at work tomorrow, the country’s largest airline said.

The accord still needs to be ratified by members of the Canadian Auto Workers union in a process that will begin next week and may take as many two weeks, Shannon Devine, a union spokeswoman, said today by telephone. The agreement covers all elements except pensions for new employees, the Dorval, Quebec- based airline said in a statement.

Air Canada service workers went on strike June 14 after contract negotiations between the union that represents 3,800 call-center, check-in and gate staff and management failed. The federal government had introduced legislation that would have forced an end to the strike minutes before today’s deal was announced.

“The agreement will help ensure the long-term sustainability of Air Canada while maintaining industry-leading compensation and benefits,” Chief Operating Officer Duncan Dee said in the statement. “It is business as usual at Air Canada.”

Labor Minister Lisa Raitt told reporters in Ottawa that introducing the legislation “was a tool that was needed in order to focus the parties and narrow the issues.” She said she was pleased the two sides negotiated their own settlement, adding “the best deal you can have is the one they did themselves.”

Union Satisfied

CAW President Ken Lewenza told reporters in a televised news conference in Toronto that while he was satisfied with the agreement, the government shouldn’t have gotten involved.

Regarding Canada’s other major labor dispute, involving 48,000 urban letter carriers at government-owned Canada Post, Raitt said she would introduce legislation aimed at ending that job action next week.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers began rotating 24-hour strikes in different cities June 3, and the company locked out all workers June 14, saying the job action had cost the company C$100 million ($101 million).

Raitt said how fast the legislation passes “depends upon the cooperation of the parties.”

The House of Commons is scheduled to break for the summer on June 23, although the session can be extended by the government.

--With assistance from Andrew Mayeda in Ottawa. Editors: Cecile Daurat, Romaine Bostick

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Badertscher in Ottawa at pbadertscher@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net.


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