Legislation forcing a government resolution to ongoing labour disputes at Air Canada passed through the House of Commons early this morning. The vote came in at about 1:30 a.m. Bill C-33 covers both disputes at the company, involving disagreements with airline ground workers and mechanics, and a separate conflict with Air Canada’s pilots. It will prevent the company from locking out its workers, and unions from going on strike, the National Post reports.
Industry Minister Lisa Raitt has been adamant that any work stoppage at Air Canada would damage the already-fragile Canadian economy, and would interfere with travel plans during March break. “You cannot have this impact on the economy and you can’t strand millions of Canadians without any means of getting back to their homes,” Ms. Raitt said Monday, quoted by the Globe and Mail.
It’s the second time in less than a year that the Harper Conservatives have interfered to resolve such issues at the airline. That has some labour organizers angry, since they view the interference as tacit support for the interests of management. “It’s a sad day for any federally regulated worker in Canada because this legislation says you do not have the right to strike, period,” said Dave Ritchie, vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, in a statement. “This will undermine free collective bargaining and poison labour relations across Canada.”
At least people will still be able to go on vacation.