Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt is once again attacking the rights of Canadian workers and interfering in free collective bargaining between Air Canada and its employees.
Minister Raitt has introduced legislation that takes away the right to strike for members of the Air Canada Pilots Association and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
This follows her referral of their unresolved contract disputes to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, supposedly to determine if the bargaining impasses – and possible work stoppages – constitutes a health and safety risk.
In protest of these blatant moves by the federal government favouring the airline in collective bargaining, I sent the following letter to Minister Raitt.
On behalf of over 618,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, including 10,000 workers in the airline industry, we protest in the strongest possible terms the government’s ongoing and unjustified interference in free collective bargaining at Air Canada.
The federal government is blatantly protecting the interests of a private corporation over the rights of Canadian workers. Again, you and your government are attempting to justify legislation that denies workers their legitimate right to strike.
Similarly, your involvement of the Canada Industrial Relations Board is a flagrant misuse of this important institution vital to labour relations. Making unfounded allegations about pressing health and safety dangers of a strike or lockout is an abuse of your powers as labour minister.
Your government’s intervention in the ongoing efforts of the workers represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to negotiate a new contract will have far-reaching implications for labour relations at the company and for workers across Canada.
I warned last summer that interference in negotiations between Air Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers would create a dangerous precedent, taking away any incentive the company had to negotiate in good faith. A few months later, you also interfered in the bargaining process between the company and CUPE-represented flight attendants.
Your message to the company and the workers is crystal clear: they know which side you’re on. This is not a recipe for the fair and responsible resolution of difficult issues at Air Canada. It is a guarantee of even more difficulties in the years to come, as long-standing grievances and inequities remain unresolved.
Your attacks on workers are having a corrosive effect on the values Canadians hold dear. Free collective bargaining is a fundamental principle of a democratic society. CUPE stands united with all Air Canada workers against the erosion of this right. We are resolved to challenge your government’s anti-worker agenda in Parliament, in the courts, at the negotiating table, and with the Canadian public.