Air Canada to lock out pilots on March 12

Airline issues notice after final offer deadline expires
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 03/08/2012

Air Canada says it will lock out its pilots on March 12, after the union representing the workers failed to accept a final offer on March 8.

We need to bring closure to the ongoing climate of labour uncertainty at Air Canada,” said Air Canada executive vice president and COO Duncan Dee. “The offer on the table to ACPA is intended to preserve our pilots' compensation and benefits in the top quartile of the North American industry. It is a very fair offer.”

UPDATE: Air Canada pilot lockout, machinist strike blocked

Air Canada said it has no choice but to lock out its pilots and that it is open to discussions if the union decides to accept the offer.

“During this notice period, the lines of communication remain open as far as Air Canada is concerned and we hope that the master executive committee of the association takes advantage of this time to accept the final offer," Duncan said.

The ACPA hasn’t commented on the lock out, but says that it will turn to its 3,000 members for a vote on the final offer. The union’s executive committee is recommending its members turn it down.

"The Corporation pulled a dramatic u-turn yesterday on the first day of our return to bargaining," said ACPA president Capt. Paul Strachan. "We think Air Canada pilots should be given the opportunity to tell the corporation directly what they think of its offer and its actions in this round of bargaining."

Air Canada’s five-year contract proposal contains wage increases of two per cent in the first and third years, four per cent in the second year, and three per cent for the final two years. The airline also wants to move new hires to a defined-contribution pension plan.

Additionally, the airline promises to meet with the ACPA should the airline is to pursue a new low-cost carrier, which requires changes to the collective agreement.

The airline and the ACPA have been negotiating on and off for 18 months and have been a legal strike or lockout position since Feb. 14.

The ACPA negotiating committee told its members in a bulletin that the two sides met on March 7, the first time since Labour Minister Lisa Raitt ordered a new six-month mediation period to begin in February.

The union said it had expected the airline to show “renewed commitment” in the new round of negotiations, but the corporation instead “chose to table what they characterized as its ‘best, last and final offer’,” said the bulletin.

The labour disruption is scheduled to occur at the same time as contract discussions are set to expire with the airline's 8,600 baggage handlers, mechanics, cargo agents, and electricians. They have provided notice they intend to strike at midnight on March 12 if they can't iron out a new contract.

— with files from Reuters

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