Air Canada amid numerous contract negotiations

Ratifying agreement with pilots, three more agreements to negotiate
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 04/13/2011

Air Canada is in the middle of reworking collective agreements with four unions that represent employees in various facets of the company.

The first of the unions to agree to new terms is the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA). The agreement is said to be groundbreaking because new hires will become members of a defined-contribution pension plan. This means that retirement benefits vary for each member of the plan based on the performance of their investments. The existing pension plan sees pilots paid at a guaranteed rate once they retire.

While Air Canada recently posted a profit of $107 million last year, the company experienced a loss of $1 billion in its 2008–2009 year. This economic reasoning, along with increasing fuel costs, led to the restructure of the company’s pension plan. The 3,000 pilots in the ACPA will be taking a ratification vote on the new contract between April 15 and 27.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents clerical and finance workers at Air Canada and maintenance and clerical workers at Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. (formerly Air Canada Technical Services), began negotiations last week. The union says that this round of bargaining is unprecedented because the Canadian general vice-president is participating from the start of negotiations.

The Canadian Autoworkers (CAW), which represents the company’s call centre staff and customer service agents, continues bargaining this week. The two groups have requested negotiation assistance with the help of a federal conciliator. Earlier this week, the CAW criticized the airline’s decision to give Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu a $4.6 million salary, along with a retention bonus to stay with the company until March 31, 2012.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents Air Canada’s flight attendants, began labour talks today.

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