CIRB involvement prevents Air Canada flight attendants from a legal strike
Air Canada flight attendants will not be going on strike as originally planned, which was slated to begin at 12:01 a.m. today.
According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the strike was blocked following a notice by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).
Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt asked the CIRB, under Section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code, to determine the rights and obligations of the employer, the union and the employees to continue the supply of services in the event of a strike.
“The minister’s intervention with the Labour Board, as it stands, postpones the calling of a strike until the question of essential services has been ruled on,” the union says on its website.
This statement from the union came only hours after CUPE announced that flight attendants would be walking off the job despite reports by the Minister of Labour and the airline “hinting at blocking their right to strike,” as they believed they were in a legal strike position and up to that point, received no order to the contrary.
Although the union is cooperating, they say “During all previous discussions and negotiations between Air Canada and its flight attendants, at no time did the employer make a formal request for the maintenance of ‘essential services’ in the event of a strike.”
The union, which represents 6,800 flight attendants, has negotiated two contracts with Air Canada since June, but both have been rejected by the employees.
As this has raised questions about the union’s leadership, Raitt’s referral to the CIRB also asks it to determine whether the rejection of two tentative agreements recommended by the union created conditions that are ”unfavourable to the settlement of the industrial dispute at hand.”
“Our government is disappointed that the union members have rejected yet another tentative agreement reached by the bargaining group and that this matter has not been resolved. The global economy is still fragile and our government's top priority is Canada's economic recovery and Canadian jobs,” Raitt says in a statement. “If the parties are unable to come to a solution, our government is prepared to act to protect Canada's fragile economy.”
Air Canada says they “accordingly expect that this process will lead to a definitive resolution for our customers. In the meantime, it remains business as usual at Air Canada and all flights will continue to operate as scheduled."
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