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Air Canada June 13th Strike Deadline Looms

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The Canadian Auto Workers union, which has about 3,800 members at Air Canada, set a strike deadline for June 13 at midnight. More than 98 per cent of local members voted in favour of going on strike, if necessary, to support their efforts for a new collective agreement.

More than 80 per cent of eligible workers participated in the vote. The CAW's collective agreement with Air Canada (TSX:AC.A) expired on Feb. 28.

The CAW's negotiations with the country's largest airline resume in Toronto on Tuesday with a federally appointed mediator.

„With this strong strike vote, our members have clearly demonstrated that they've had enough of being taken for granted by Air Canada,“ said CAW national president Ken Lewenza.

He said the union rejects* „the many concessions and the destruction of our pension plan like Air Canada is demanding.“*

Air Canada said there is sufficient time for the parties to reach an agreement before the strike deadline.

If talks fail to reach a settlement with the CAW, the airline said it plans to maintain full operations by implementing a contingency service plan at airports and call centres to minimize impact on customers.

„It is business as usual for the airline and its customers can continue to book Air Canada flights with confidence,“ the airline said Friday.

On Thursday, the union representing Air Canada's pilots announced they had rejected a tentative agreement designed to cut costs and pave the way for the launch of a low-cost carrier.

The Air Canada Pilots Association said that 67 per cent of the votes cast by its members were against the agreement. Only about 100 of some 2,900 pilots failed to cast ballots.

ACPA presdietn Paul Strachan said the pilots union will meet with members to assess particular concerns before returning to the bargaining table.

Lewenza said the CAW doesn't want to cause disruptions for the travelling public. But he said Air Canada has shown little will and flexibility required from both sides to arrive at a new deal.

Jamie Ross, president of CAW Local 2002, said the company has underestimated the growing frustration of the union's members.

„They've worked hard to deliver major productivity improvements over the last 10 years while seeing their wages stagnate and co-workers pushed out the door,“ Ross said.

The union plans to conduct demonstrations in major airport terminals. Hundreds of workers and supporters have already participated in such events in Montreal and Calgary, along with at Air Canada's annual shareholders' meeting.

Air Canada is Canada's largest domestic and international full-service airline providing scheduled and charter services to more than 175 destinations.

The world's 15th largest airline serves 33 million customers annually.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada's shares gained one cent at $2.35 in midday trading.


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