Ottawa to block Air Canada work stoppage

Ottawa to block Air Canada work stoppage

The federal government will introduce back-to-work legislation today to ensure there is no work stoppage at Air Canada.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt told reporters in Ottawa on Monday that a work stoppage could harm what she calls Canada's "fragile economic recovery."

"We will take swift actions to ensure that Canada's economic recovery is not negatively affected and that Canadians across the country who rely on air services are not unduly impacted," Raitt said.

"We are anticipating the process …could take up to two days."

The legislation would take effect in the event of a strike by machinists and ground crews, or the lockout of the pilots. Last week, Ottawa referred the files to the Canada Industrial Relations Board — a pre-emptive move aimed at heading off any work disruption.

Last week, Air Canada moved to lockout its pilots, while at the same time machinists were preparing to go on strike. But both moves were made redundant in the short term by the file being sent to the CIRB as no work stoppage is possible while the board investigates.

Raitt said Monday that the board is currently in the process of talking with all sides. She didn't offer an estimate of how long that process might take.

Montreal protest

Meanwhile, the company's employees staged a noisy rally to denounce the federal government in Montreal on Monday.

Gathered outside Montreal's Trudeau airport, a few dozen workers chanted, "Lisa Raitt, you're not right," and blew whistles and plastic horns to protest the government's decision to prevent them from going on strike.

To ensure things continue working smoothly at the airport, there is increased security; the employees are being confined to a small area just outside the departures area marked by orange traffic cones.

The workers are upset that the Harper Tories have intervened several times in labour disputes, therefore weakening the position of employees as they negotiate new contracts.

Marcel St-Jean, a union spokesman, said workers are frustrated, but they have no plan to disrupt operations and upset air travellers.
L Gilbert
Eh. Air Cannot is a joke anyway. I'd sooner fly Air Pteradactyl (not that we fly much anyway). We don't leave our luggage behind when we drive around the planet. We also have decent meals.
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The government lost the right to interfere with Air Canada when they sold it. They shouldn't be getting involved. There are other airlines that are around. They also tend to have better service.
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