Pilots' union says Air Canada abandons labour talks

Parties enter 21-day cooling off period, dispute can't escalate
By Jeffrey Jones
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 01/24/2012

(Reuters) - Air Canada has abandoned conciliated contract talks with its pilots, raising the likelihood that Ottawa could step in to resolve the dispute, the association representing 3,000 pilots at the country's largest airline said Jan. 24.

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) said the airline failed to put a proposal on the table within the 60-day conciliation period it had asked the government for. It then made a last-minute offer but did not negotiate, ACPA said.

The federal conciliation period expires in 60 days unless both sides agree to an extension. The pilots and conciliator agreed to extend the process but Air Canada refused, ACPA president Paul Strachan said in a statement.

"It's obvious that the airline's executives want to run out the legislated time clock so they can foist a fake crisis on the federal government, in the hope that Ottawa will impose arbitration," Strachan said.

Both parties now enter a 21-day cooling off period during which neither side can take action to escalate the dispute. The ACPA said it wants to reach a negotiate deal.

The pilots rejected a tentative settlement in 2010 and have been without a contract since March 2011.

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