The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced late Sunday the rejection of a tentative agreement that had been reached with Air Canada on September 20th. Members of the union voted against the deal with a 65.2 per cent vote in favour of rejection.
This announcement also serves as a notice of intention to strike, which could occur starting at 12:01 am on October 13th. This is the second tentative agreement that the union has rejected amongst Air Canada negotiations. The union’s previous rejection occurred in late August.
“We ask the federal government, in the strongest possible terms, to respect our right to collective bargaining and not intervene unilaterally in this dispute”, says Jeff Taylor, President of the Air Canada Component of CUPE.
Air Canada plans to continue operations regularly, but is unhappy with the strike notice. "We are perplexed and disappointed that two tentative agreements negotiated in good faith with and unanimously recommended by the democratically elected representatives of our flight attendants have failed to be ratified," said Duncan Dee, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Air Canada remains hopeful that a disruption can be avoided."
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Air Canada is instituting a flexible rebooking policy to quell customer uncertainty, allowing customers who have booked flights in the next six days to change dates free of charge until December 15th, 2011. The company is also planning ahead in case of work disruption, announcing it will implement a partial schedule. More information will be released about such a schedule before implementation.
The office of Canada’s Labour Minister Lisa Raitt also reacted to the CUPE’s rejection and strike notice announcement. Previously stating that they would intervene if a strike did occur back in September, it seems the office is still prepared to take action should the strike take effect.
"The government will be considering its options, however we will be clear that a work stoppage is unacceptable in this time of fragile economy," said an official statement.
The CUPE represents 9,500 members in air transport including employees at Air Transat, Calm Air, Air Canada, Canadian North, CanJet Airlines, Cathay Pacific, First Air and Porter.