The union representing Air Canada's pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action Tuesday, but the pilots insist the move is "defensive" and that passengers have nothing to worry about.
The Air Canada Pilots Association membership voted 97 per cent in favour of a strike. The union, which represents the airline's 3,000 pilots, said it shows the pilots' dedication to reaching a negotiated settlement with the airline.
Union president Paul Strachan said Tuesday night the vote results translated to the ability to even the playing field with the company, which was in a position to enforce a legal lockout. The union has been without a collective agreement since March 31, 2011.
Air Canada and the pilots' union have been attempting to reach a new agreement since October 2010. The two sides have been engaged in negotiations through a conciliator since last November.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said in a statement Tuesday she is offering Air Canada and its pilots a new mediator and a six-month process to help them settle their contract negotiations.
Strachan said Tuesday night negotiations will continue with a new mediator when the appointment is finalized. Air Canada also has said it is confident it can avoid a labour disruption and that talks will continue.
In her statement, Raitt cited the fragile economy as a primary reason to avoid any labour disruption at Canada's largest air carrier.
Air Canada's pilots vote 97% for strike (external - login to view)