Air Canada contract ultimatum to pilots expires

Parties have been in strike, lockout position since Feb. 14
||Last Updated: 03/08/2012

A final offer deadline has passed in the Air Canada pilots' labour dispute. The union representing Air Canada's pilots told its members the airline provided a noon deadline on March 8 to accept its contract offer.

UPDATE: Air Canada to lock out pilots on March 12

Canada's biggest airline issued the ultimatum just 23 days into a 180-day federal mediation process.

"The corporation advised that, if the association did not accept the offer, it would 'pursue any and all rights afforded to it by law'," the papers quoted union leaders saying in a notice to members.

There was no response from Air Canada or the union representing its pilots when contacted after the deadline.

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) has been in a legal position to strike since Feb. 14. The airline can also lock the pilots out, but both must give 72 hours' notice.

The ACPA negotiating committee told its 3,000 members in a bulletin that the two sides met on March 7, the first time since Labour Minister Lisa Raitt ordered a new six-month mediation period to begin in February.

The union said it had expected the airline to show “renewed commitment” in the new round of negotiation, but the corporation instead “chose to table what they characterized as its ‘best, last and final offer’,” said the bulletin.

The union claims the offer was almost the same as an offer tabled on Jan. 29, but with minor amendments.

The ACPA is now looking at its next steps, the union said.

If Air Canada decides to lock out its pilots, the labour disruption would occur at the same time as contract discussions are set to expire with the airline's 8,600 baggage handlers, mechanics, cargo agents, and electricians. They have provided notice they intend to strike at midnight on March 12 if they can't iron out a new contract.

— with files from Reuters

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