Air Canada abandons federal conciliation
Jan. 24, 2012, Toronto - Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) President Captain Paul Strachan today expressed his members' frustration that their airline is abandoning the effort to negotiate a new contract with the assistance of a federal conciliator.
"This is a clear attempt by Air Canada to engineer a conflict without making a serious effort to negotiate a settlement," Captain Strachan said.
"Air Canada failed to table a proposal within the 60-day conciliation process that it requested from the federal government. Even after we agreed to extend conciliation, Air Canada put down a last-minute offer and is now abandoning the process before serious negotiations can take place."
Under the Canada Labour Code, federal conciliation expires after 60 days, unless both parties agree to extend the process. Both the pilots and the federal conciliator asked Air Canada to continue the process, but the airline refused.
"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," Captain Strachan said. "The federal government should be as angry as our pilots that Air Canada executives are playing these games. The Minister of Labour should tell Air Canada to get back to the bargaining table with a genuine proposal aimed at a fair settlement."
Under federal law, the pilots and Air Canada now enter a 21-day "cooling off" period, before either party can take any further action that could escalate the situation. Captain Strachan underlined the pilots' willingness to continue bargaining during this period. "Air Canada pilots remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement. We are willing to meet with the company, with or without the assistance of the federal government, to continue working towards a new agreement. We have been waiting more than a decade for this opportunity and have no intention of walking away from the bargaining table."
The pilots have been unable to freely negotiate a contract since Air Canada's financial restructuring in 2003 and currently earn less than they did ten years ago.
Air Canada pilots rejected a previous tentative agreement by a two-to-one margin in a democratic vote last May. Since that time, the pilots have continued to work under the terms of their existing collective agreement, which expired at the end of March 2011. That contract froze the pilots' pay at 2008 rates.
In 2010, Air Canada increased total compensation for its top five executives by 30 per cent.
"Air Canada pilots have maintained the highest professional standards for our passengers while demonstrating their commitment to negotiating a new agreement with our employer," Captain Strachan said. "Air Canada must make an equal effort to reach an agreement with its pilots, so our customers can continue to rely on the safety and professionalism they expect from Air Canada pilots."