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Air Canada set to lock out pilots

Air Canada has given notice that it will lock out its pilots effective 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 12, pursuant to the Canada Labour Code. According to officials, the airline tabled its “final and best offer”to ACPA yesterday, the union representing its pilots in order to bring finality to a set of negotiations that began 18 months ago and bring stability for its customers. The proposal expired at noon today, and as it was not accepted by ACPA by that time, Air Canada issued the notice. “We need to bring closure to the ongoing climate of labour uncertainty at Air Canada which is affecting our customers, destabilizing the company and our operations, and damaging the Air Canada brand,”said Duncan Dee, executive vice-president and chief operating officer. “We have been in protracted talks over the past 18 months which have included various attempts at conciliation and mediation. The offer on the table to ACPA is intended to preserve our pilots’ compensation and benefits in the top quartile of the North American industry. It is a very fair offer. We had hoped this offer would reasonably bring this protracted labour dispute to an end. However, as ACPA has not accepted our final offer by the proscribed deadline, we are left with no option but to exercise our rights under the Canada Labour Code, a decision which we have not taken lightly. During this notice period, the lines of communication remain open as far as Air Canada is concerned and we hope that the Master Executive Committee of the Association takes advantage of this time to accept the final offer.”Separately, on March 6, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), (representing the airline’s approximately 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents in Canada) provided notice to Air Canada that it intends to begin strike action starting at 12:01 a.m. ET on March 12. The IAMAW membership recently rejected the unanimously recommended tentative agreement signed by the IAMAW bargaining committee following the federal mediation before the Madam Justice Louise Otis. “We recognize and regret the uncertainty for our customers and we thank them for their patience and understanding. We will continue to provide further updates including information on contingency plans, as developments warrant,”said Dee. Due to the high volume of calls at its call centres, wait times are longer than usual. To avoid waiting, Air Canada strongly recommends customers consult its web site, http://www.aircanada.com , which will continue to be updated with the latest information for customers.

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