Ottawa steps in to block Air Canada labour disruption -National Post

Scott Deveau  Mar 8, 2012 – 9:12 AM ET | Last Updated: Mar 8, 2012 3:56 PM ET

Federal labour minister, Lisa Raitt, said she will refer Air Canada’s dispute with both its pilots’ and machinists’ union to the Canada Industrial Relations Board in attempt to avoid a labour disruption at the airline during the busy March Break period.

“Given our fragile economy, we’ve said before, a work stoppage is unacceptable,” Ms. Raitt told reporters in Ottawa Thursday.

Ms. Raitt referred a similiar dispute between Air Canada and its flight attendants to the CIRB last October before the parties agreed to put the matter out for arbitration, which ultimately saw a previously rejected tentative agreement forced on the employees.

The area of the labour code Ms. Raitt said she was referring the matter to the CIRB under was to determine whether an airline, like Air Canada, could be considered an essential service.

“The Canadian labour code is very clear that while the CIRB is considering the matter of what level of services an air carrier may have to provide in the case of health and safety matters they cannot affect a work stoppage. So it applies to both a lockout and a strike.”

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