Air Canada machinists provide March 12 strike date

Labour Minister urges parties to continue negotiations
||Last Updated: 03/08/2012

Air Canada says a union representing the airline’s mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents in Canada has provided a strike deadline of March 12.

Air Canada received notice of strike action on March 6 from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), which represents about 8,600 workers.

UPDATE: Air Canada pilot lockout, machinist strike blocked

The action comes after the workers voted against a tentative four-year contract deal the union had negotiated with Air Canada.

"The lines of communication remain open and we are hopeful that there remains sufficient time to avoid a work disruption," Duncan Dee, Air Canada's chief operating officer said in a statement.

Canada's labour minister urged the nation's largest airline to negotiate an agreement with the machinists' union and avoid a strike that would not be in the best interests of the country and its businesses.

"I encourage both parties to continue bargaining and reach a new collective agreement as soon as possible," Lisa Raitt said in a statement emailed to Reuters. "The government is concerned that a strike is possible and is taking this situation very seriously."

The statement did not say if the government would pass back-to-work legislation to prevent a strike, but added: "Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate to protect the economic recovery and create jobs."

If a settlement is not reached and the union goes ahead with the strike, the airline will work to minimize inconvenience to its passengers, Air Canada said.

— with files from Reuters

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