Air Canada flight attendants are prepared to strike, although Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the attendants won't be allowed to, due to a government block.
On Tuesday, Raitt told CTV News that the strike, starting Thursday at 12:01 a.m., would be blocked by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).The board would interpret the Labour Code and suspend the strike for an undefined amount of time.
What that does mean is that while the matter is before the CIRB there cannot be a work stoppage, Raitt told CTV.
The negotiations were sent to the CIRB because the Canadian Parliament is currently on a week-long recess. The government has drafted back-to-work legislation twice in the past. Both times the carrier was able to reach deals with unions before legislation passed.
Raitt's media statements haven't stopped Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) attendants from preparing to strike, as they have yet to receive any legal orders stopping the walk out of a possible 6,800 flight attendants.
Flight attendants represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, are preparing to walk off the job at 12:01 am, October 13, despite media statements by the Minister of Labour and the airline hinting at blocking their right to strike, CUPE said in press release Wednesday.
CUPE decided to strike after 65 percent of members rejected a second tentative agreement brought forward by Air Canada on Sunday. The union then gave its 72 hour strike notice.
We ask the federal government, in the strongest possible terms, to respect our right to collective bargaining and not intervene unilaterally in this dispute, said Jeff Taylor in a CUPE press release.
A prospective strike would mean nearly 65,000 passengers could become stranded, Raitt said last month with a possible strike looming. If flight attendants did walk out, Air Canada was set to fly on a partial schedule relying on regional partners such as Sky Regional Airlines. Those flying Air Canada can change the date of their flight over a period of six days, to minimize disruptions.
Flight attendants aren't the only disgruntled workers. 74 security screeners at Toronto's Pearson Airport, a main hub for Air Canada, have been suspended after refusing to follow CIRB mandate to stop slowdowns.
As of Tuesday, Air Canada remained confident flights will operate as usual through the week with the expected CIRB action.
It will remain business as usual at Air Canada and all flights will continue to operate as scheduled, Air Canada said in press release.