Air Canada reaches third deal with union in three days

Airline's flight dispatchers, mechanists and schedulers have new agreements
By Janet Guttsman
||Last Updated: 02/13/2012

(Reuters) — Air Canada says it has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing its Toronto flight dispatchers, the third deal for Canada's largest airline in three days.

Air Canada reached deals with mechanics, baggage handlers and purchasing agents on Feb. 10 and with crew schedulers on Feb. 12. It still faces the possibility of a pilots' strike On Feb. 14, although the Canadian government could also pass legislation forcing a quick return to work.

Air Canada said the latest deal with the Canadian Airline Dispatchers Association will now go to the airline's 74 flight dispatchers at its Toronto control center for ratification. It gave no details of the terms of the new agreement.

Air Canada, which competes on many routes with smaller, non-union carrier WestJet Airlines, wants to set up a low-cost carrier to improve its financial chances.

It reached a tentative agreement with Air Canada's Pilots Association in March 2011, but the pilots rejected it, worried about two-tier pensions and the impact of the discount airline on their own terms and conditions.

The pilots' union called a strike vote after talks with a government-appointed conciliator and management failed. Once a cooling-off period ends on Feb. 14, the pilots can strike after giving the airline 72 hours' notice. Air Canada can also lock out workers with the same notice.

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