Conciliator appointed in Air Canada pilot dispute

2012 strike or lockout could take place if parties unable to reach agreement
||Last Updated: 11/15/2011

A conciliator has been chosen to recommend the terms of a collective agreement between Air Canada and its 3,000 pilots.

Air Canada surprised the pilots’ union in late October when it filed a notice with the federal government claiming contract takes had stalled. The union said it was caught off guard by the notice because it told the airline the week prior that it was ready to return to the bargaining table.

The appointment of Paul Macdonnell as the conciliator essentially starts the countdown to a possible strike or lockout in 2012. Under the Canada Labour Code, the conciliator has 60 days to render a decision, but that timeframe can be extended if mutually agreed upon by both parties. If an agreement still cannot be reached, a 21-day cooling-off period occurs before a 72-hour strike or lockout notice can be served.

Pilots at Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, rejected a tentative labour agreement in May that their union bargaining committee had reached with the carrier. The agreement included provisions for a new discount airline with lower wages and longer hours. Subsequently, the union elected a new bargaining committee.

Talks between the two sides had not resumed since the contract was rejected, but the union had proposed resuming negotiations on Nov. 23.

The pilots' last contract expired on March 31, 2011.

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