Air Canada is readying non-union workers to replace sales and service agents in preparation for threatened strike action at the group. The carrier announced it intended to operate a full schedule but warned of long airport lines, encouraging online check in.
"Air Canada is firmly committed to negotiating a new contract with the CAW and avoiding strike action. However, should this not be possible, Air Canada has contingency plans in place to operate a full schedule and all bookings will be honored," said Duncan Dee, Air Canada's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "We appreciate this situation may cause uncertainty for our customers and we thank them for their patience and understanding.”
The airline has also installed self service check in and baggage tagging and has assigned additional personal to help travelers. the Canadian Auto Workers delivered a 73-hour strike notice last Friday effective at midnight Monday. The move followed the rejection of its tentative agreement with pilots recently, on plans to launch and low-cost carrier and intentions to treat new hires differently than current employees.
“We certainly recognise that this potential disruption is a cause for concern to our customers,” said Senior Vice President Customer Service Susan Welscheid on the Air Canada site. “We remain focussed, however, on reaching a settlement and, in any event, to minimising any inconvenience to travel plans. It is also negotiating with all its other labor groups.
Representing 3800 employees, the Canadian Auto Workers, was miffed by the airline’s pension proposal, according to the Financial Post, who quoted CAW as saying the position is tantamount to telling members to go to hell. Other key issues include moving new hires to a defined contribution pension plan and up to 40% reduction in benefits paid to new retirees. Pension is a sore topic since the airline’s pension is under funded by CAD2.1 billion.