Air Canada, machinists' union dispute to head to arbitration

Second Air Canada dispute to be sent to arbitration in days
||Last Updated: 05/28/2012

(Reuters) — The dispute beween Air Canada and the union representing 8,600 of its mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents will be handed to a government arbitrator. the airline announced on May 22. The two sides have been unable reach a settlement after 10 days of mediated talks.

Both sides will now prepare their final offers for the arbitrator, Michel Picher, to consider.

Picher has less than 90 days to choose either the offer from Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, or the one put forward by the union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The mediated talks were constructive and progress was made in a number of areas, Air Canada said in a statement.

The two sides have been in on-and-off talks since the union's collective agreement expired on March 31, 2011.

As the months went by, relations became more strained, resulting in the union issuing a strike notice in March. But Canada's labour minister stepped in to prevent a strike, enacting legislation that sent the dispute to arbitration.

Later in March, some machinists engaged in wildcat strikes at airports in Toronto and Montreal, which disrupted dozens of Air Canada flights.

This is the second Air Canada agreement in days to be sent to final arbitration. On May 19, the union representing 3,000 Air Canada pilots said it failed to reach a contract agreement with the company after 10 days of mediated talks, leaving the dispute in the hands of a government arbitrator.

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