Air Canada employees expected to return to work as agreement reached

Air Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers union have reached a tentative agreement ending the three-day walkout of call centre, check-in and gate agents with all 3800 employees expected to return to work Friday, 17-June.

The agreement, which must now be ratified by rank and file and Air Canada’s board, excludes settlement on the most contentious point in the disagreement – pension arrangements which will go to binding arbitration. The move forestalls the need for the Canadian government to intervene with legislation ending the strike.

The agreement maintains the current defined benefit plan for all current employees. Air Canada wants new hires offered a defined contribution pension plan and up to 40% reduction in benefits paid to new retirees.

The showdown with CAW is the first of four unions covering 3000 pilots, 6800 flight attendants and 10,000 baggage and maintenance technicians whose contracts also expire in 2011. Its recent tentative deal with the carrier’s pilots was rejected by rank and file last month.

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