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Government Involvement In Air Canada Strike

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Talks between Air Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers union broke down after both sides were unable to reach a tentative agreement by the 11:59 p.m. deadline Monday.„We're extremely disappointed that 10 weeks of tough negotiations has not resulted in a new agreement that we can take back to our membership,“ said CAW President Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

The walkout reportedly occurred after the Air Canada refused to remove concessionary demands on the existing pension plan. In all, about 3,800 sales and service agents walked out, however Air Canada said it expects to continue business as usual and that discussions are still taking place to try to assemble a deal. „We are very disappointed that an agreement for a new contract has not been reached prior to the CAW's strike deadline,“ said Duncan Dee, Air Canada's executive vice-president and chief operating officer in a statement. „In the interim, we have implemented a contingency plan involving more than 1,700 managers to assist at airports and call centres. We will continue to operate our full schedule and all bookings will be honoured.“

The federal government is warning both sides in the Air Canada strike that they’ve got two days to hammer out a settlement or face the prospect of back-to-work legislation.Worried that airline customers will face mounting delays and snarled travel plans, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on Tuesday laid the procedural groundwork to bring in legislation after 48 hours to end the strike, if necessary. “It is a notice of the intention of the government to act in this matter,” Raitt said.“We’re going to start seeing more and more delays, we’re going to see lots more crowds at airport. Today seems to be a good day that things are holding together. But you can only hold it together for so long,” she said. “I’m encouraging the parties to go back to the table and discuss it with each other now that they know there’s a finite amount of time,” Raitt said.

Meanwhile, Air Canada has advised travellers to check in online up to 24 hours in advance, arrive at the terminal earlier than usual and avoid checking luggage if possible. Passengers who do have more than carry-on luggage will have to use the self-service kiosks for tagging. Some passengers will not be allowed to fly during the strike, the airline advised on its website: unaccompanied children, passengers with pets in most cases, peace officers with guns and passengers with dangerous goods in checked luggage. Those passengers could receive a re-booking or refund, the airline said.

The announcement comes on the heels of striking Air Canada workers suggesting things could get a whole lot worse at the country’s nine largest airports.


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