Air Canada’s largest union has announced workers will begin to strike next Monday—the first day of March break—Postmedia news reported on Wednesday. Two thirds of the members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers had voted down a contract deal with the airline on Feb. 23.
According to the CBC, if the strike goes ahead, flights would be grounded, leaving thousands of passengers stranded on one of the year’s busiest holidays:
In a brief statement posted on the IAMAW Local 2323 website, the union says: “We are the largest unionized workforce at Air Canada, without us, it’s all grounded.”
The CBC goes on to explain the reasons for both sides’ grievances:
Many Air Canada workers are trying to win back pay and concessions they gave up to help the airline restructure under bankruptcy protection in 2003 and 2004. In its financial report issued last month, Air Canada said it lost $60 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $249 million for the year. Pension reform, wages, scheduling night shifts, mandatory overtime and the role of part-time staff are among the key issues.
Airline executives say there is still enough time to come to an agreement with workers before the strike begins.
Last October, an attempt to strike by Air Canada flight attendants was cut short when Labour Minister Lisa Raitt intervened. The controversial move was seen as an affront to workers’ right to strike.